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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  November 17, 2015 9:00am-7:01pm EST

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everybody has to find their own voice and their own reason for becoming involved in politics. and i think that you a then tau says well, if that person cares, i should care, too, and this is what i care about. >> so you're a real person and a politician. at least you seem to be from where i'm sitting. what's it like from the inside? how does it feel to run? >> i think the italian experience is a bit different from what we spoke until now, because we were elected with a strong mandate from all people to crash old politics. we were not elected by young people, i have to say. when we -- we have to be honest. when we were competing in 2013,
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we had lots of gray heads in rooms and in meetings. young people did not vote traditional parties like the democratic party. they went to vote for the five stars movement. but, the end of it, we ended up with a very young parliament. this parliament is the youngest parliament elected in italy since the beginning of the republic, so since the end of the world war. and we do have a mandate. we have a mandate to respond to the quote that we had that david showed us of, let's say, 2.5 million young people that in italy do not work, do not study and are not in training. so we were elected to change politics but we do represent a generation that feeds outside politics and i think this is our challenge.
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on one side what are the issues that move us? and with colleagues from different parties we did a lot of work on the issue of youth unemployment because we strongly felt that that was our mandate to get that part of the legislation and of government programs better because we have a problem in italy certainly. but that's not enough because, as we've seen, young people do not vote only because of what government delivers. also, if they feel involved. and that's the second part of our mandate that is more challenging, i have to say, which is involving young people in politics which is what we are all talking about. in a different way because one way involves people in politics and specific campaigns or during electoral times. the other issue is how to get people involved in every day politics and in taking up
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responsibilities. i think two keys speaks to the responsibilities. first of all you have to set an example. if you're a young politician and you want to involve people your a age. so canvassing, being in the streets. my personal experience is that with a group of friends we opened up shop in the middle of my constituency which was the most right-wing constituency in italy. we opened it up ten years ago because we wanted to turn that into a left wing constituency and in the end, in 2011 we won the election in milan. we were in the streets every day, we did lots of conversation with the people in the constituency and this really paid off.
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the second example be there and do what you ask young people to do. young people really want to get different things to do. they don't want to speak a lot. i was meeting a young person that's got a little bit involved in politics, and he said, but i don't know what this politics is about. i don't want to go around and tell people things that i don't believe. and so a very difficult thing to explain to this young person is that actually politics is not -- you just say what you're really convinced, and the good things about politics you put yourself into a position to change things, to deliver a message, to build relationship. you do politics, if you get involved, no party asks you to lie for a party, but the main
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idea young people have is that they're asked if they're recruited as volunteers, they're asked to lie, but actually it's not that. so really the second lesson that i have from my experience is to give young people, people our age, the possibility of doing things, to try out what they're really passionate about, to give them space and means and possibilities to try out stuff that is not the right or wrong message, just politics, i think, is a possibility of doing things. >> let me just pick up a point. i want to come back to you, hillary, and ask, when we were in the greenroom discussing the shift from campaigning to governance and what we experienced in 2008 and what some people may have said was a disappointment, there weren't enough things for people to do in the u.s. to help the agenda, are you thinking about this as the trudeau government comes in?
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>> yeah. >> how you maintain this momentum, how you keep it going, and what's your thinking on that? >> for sure. that's definitely something i've been actively thinking about. we mobilize probably more people to get involved in politics than ever before in canadian history, and how do we go forward with that and how do we keep people engaged? one, because they want to be engage and, two, it actually will help the democratic process continue. if people think we only wanted to engage with them because there was an election, that's not going to speak very well for us in four years. plus, a lot of the ideas and a lot of the stuff that we rolled out, i think, was successful. we learned from each other. one would try doing this and they would say, hey, we did this and we organized around this issue and it was really effective and we would learn from each other. we have a lot to learn from our grassroots community so it's definitely something that is being actively talked about and
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how do we do that moving forward both as, you know, for the mps, with their constituents but for other areas that maybe the write-ins we didn't necessarily win but we wanted to continue with the party and to be involved with the process. >> what is it that people are asking for, the millennials are asking for when it comes to their involvement in politics? >> conversation, authenticity from the people who are engaging and a genuine two-way dialogue. one of the things young people are saying when talking about the need for politics to actually get into the 21st century and to start using social media, don't just use it as another form of lecturing. if you're going to use social media, you can't just pretend you know how to do it. you have to do it properly, which is why we need young people, both sides of the discussion, who need to seamlessly know how to use social media and to connect with young people. when you're inviting suggestions, you need to be authentically listening to those
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conversations. and i think the point just touched on, you can't leave it a few months or a year before an election to sudden ly show an interest in young people because there are highlights that you're not authentic. you fleneed to use genuine diale all the time and it needs to be an initiative rather than a campaign in terms of involving young people. the answers to all of these questions are actually in the audience because young people know how to engage with young people, so there needs to be a lot more people the side of the fence, as it were, creating a very genuine engagement. the best politicians engaging young people are completely opposite ends of the political spectrum but they both have that cache of being real and listening. >> i'm going to open it up in a second to people in the audience so if you have some ideas or contributions you want to make,
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start to think about how to formulate now. i want to go back to something you said earlier about doing things for young people and the fact that you and your young colleagues worked together on youth unemployment and employment opportunities. has that changed the perception of young people towards the partisan politics, the fact you can collaborate with members of the opposition party or different parties to do things for them, or -- i mean, have you seen a change in the way people feel about you? have you managed to attract them away from the five-star movement by showing that you can work together and actually achieve things? >> when we started working together, it was really hard. it was a very difficult time in italian politics. there was a sense of a true divide between those coming from traditional parties and those coming from a populous party, from a grassroots movement. but, we thought it worth a try to engage them. and i think in the end we did engage them on specific issue,
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but this didn't translate into a different change on either issues. i mean, the issue of youth unemployment in italy is so terrible. i mean, 40% of young people between the age of 18 and 29 are not in employment, education or training. so we needed nonpartisan point. i have to be honest on this. >> i'm going to open it up to questions from the audience. the gentleman in the front row first. do we have a microphone? >> my name is anders and i'm a representative of the swedish [ inaudible ]. there's one issue that seems to be lacking here and that's climate change. does this not resonate with the millennials at all?
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it's their future. [ inaudible ] >> i can talk to that. i think it's definitely an issue that young people care about and i think, not to use the messaging of it's on us but it is on us as people who are leading the movements to meet people where they're at and to engage them in a productive conversation and to work with them towards solutions. i think speaking from the it's on us campaign perperspective, that's been successful we've structured a model very much outside of the traditional political system for young people to plug in to a movement where they are the agents of change. i think it's something applicable to any number of issues, climate change included. >> i think it's definitely high up. you may have just missed something in the slides.
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it's did he haefinitely up ther certainly in the discussion groups. it's a hugely important issue to young people. >> the lady at the back there. >> i'm sarah, a junior at stanford university studying here as part of the stanford and washington program and my question is given that we've got representatives from across the atlantic, what would you say is the collaboration that we might need to really move the needle and engage millennials? >> you're on the international affairs committee. why don't you -- >> well, i think what really struck me in the debate today is even in different countries we do have the same challenges and in a way similar solutions. i mean, we have similar figures that are successful with young people like the leaders we spoke
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about, trudeau and barack obama, and we should really develop on specific issues that are really felt by young people. in europe what happens is that there is, for example, a very big attempt between elected officials and grassroots movements to, let's say, revive the whole idea of the european integration process which is something that links up different european countries and different parties and european countries. it's up to our generation it to demonstrate that process is meaningful today. the transatlantic divide, there is climate change and the second one is how to face issues like migration and general instability in the war that do require more progressive
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policies like arms control, like human trafficking control, a stronger assertion of human rights in certain areas of the world. these are issues that at least in my country resonate with young people. >> just on that, how are people feeling about the refugee crisis in italy? how does that come out as well, david, in the research? >> well, in italy on the refugee crisis, there is a big young people movement of volunteers helping out in the streets, especially in the stations where these people arrive. there is a big personal involvement. when i say politicians need to set the example is also with respect to those kinds of instances where young people just go and do things and i think we should be there with them to help and to show that
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not only we can, let's say, deliver food or water but that being in institutions you can do much more to help those people, so you can be multitasking. >> i think, too, what's interesting about what you just said is that you are doing kind of something outside of passing legislation that's going to help the refugees but delivering food is using your position and your giant microphone to engage other people in making real social change. i think that's exactly right. >> the refugee crisis has unfolded as the research has been progressing, and in the earlier phases of the research we were finding a consistent picture talking about immigration in a very positive way. they're enjoying being part of multicultural society. however, as the refugee crisis has gop ne on, there is
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resistance, as you would expect, certainly the media feeds a lot of that. i think in general what we pick up is that younger people are more frustrated with the lack of initiative with their government and are more kind of coming out as very humanitarian in the -- and concerned about the issue of feeling powerless as to how you begin to affect change. from a young perspective, probably there's less problems within the older generation but, as i say, as this progresses we have found more resistance than earlier on. >> did that play a role in the canadian campaign, because the young boy who was found on the beach in turkey, his family had been seeking asylum in canada and had been refused asylum. >> it was actually his brother -- the uncle's family. but they did have relatives in canada, and i think they hadn't started the official immigration process. i think it really did play into
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the election and people were very concerned, and i think that was at one point in the election where people, partisanship kind of toned down at least for a couple of days which was nice to see. that was one of our key campaign promises to bring over 25,000 refugees before the beginning of the year. working hard to fulfill that promise. i think one thing that we've seen come out of the news in the last couple of days is just that refugees and immigration is need ed to be looked at as an opportunity and the party and the government is trying to push forward. >> the gentleman here in the tie. >> hello. i'm a policy adviser. i just have a quick question. what we're experiencing now in
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europe is while we talked about the issue of authenticity and how important it is and, of course, this is the right way to go, you don't just engage with young people but in order to sustain this relationship you have to be authentic in the long term. what we see more and more in europe and the states is politicians being lured by the powers of populism. and that's another shiny way of approaching and engaging with young people and in certain countries like in hungary as you mentioned, so politicians engage with young people because they sound emotional. that's a way to be popular amongst the younger generations as well. i just wanted to get an opinion from across the panel on how
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difficult it is to perhaps, how may i put it politely, to stand the fort and not go down this road of populism and appear authentic in this time where everyone wants. it's did he haefinitely popular appear populous. >> we have a strong responsibility especially in europe in certain countries, italy is one of those, we do have strong requests from young people. and they're grounded requests. it's not like it used to be in the past. the younger generations are bearing the brunt of crisis and will bear the brunt of a crisis not only because they're out of jobs but because their possibility of having children is going to be lower. and so on. we do have a responsibility of taking seriously that anger.
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and i think populists are not doing that. they're using younger -- they're revising younger but they're not using it productively. i mean, the answers they give are not true answers, are not doable answers. in this sense younger people, younger generations are a lot less politically motivated in the sense ideologically motivated. they're a lot more realistic in politics and, i mean, it's up to whoever is in institutions to be able to, let's say, take the passion out of the requests but make it, make this anger doable. answer to problems younger generations have in europe. >> are they attractive to the
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millennial generation? >> yeah. i mean -- >> who are they? >> who are they? well, so, on your point about having a responsibility to be authentic and to your question, i think what is important here is to be true to what kind of the end goal is and, again, i'm going to speak about kind of the it's on us campaign which is different, obviously, than being a candidate running for office and issue organizing around a specific goal. and it's actually that kind of disillusionment with the institutions that even makes the campaign possible in the first place and it is operating kind of outside of normal legislative process to make change here and then bring the politicians in after, to make that cultural change so that it is realistic to have an answer to the problem.
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i think what is so valuable is to have not just one kind of populist answer but to have a chorus of voices on the same message, and i think it's that kind of mosaic and rich tapestry of different voices all kind of promoting the same message that increases the likelihood you'll find the message more relatable. in terms of the populism idea, i think bringing in more people to have different perspectives but all on the same message really brings in a wider swath of people. >> the lady at the back. >> this is a fabulous panel. i founded an ngo, and we're focused on intergenerational engagement, on teens and millennials and creating
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bringing people together in living room salons into a dialogue around problem sets. this was create d out a lot of years being in washington and working a lot in politics. feeling that we need to do a better job of listening and have that two-way dialogue as you mentioned. i haven't heard you talk about social entrepreneurship or maybe i missed it. my sense is really smart governments and politicians engage people from all sectors, social entrepreneurs, businesses, ngos and work on solutions collaboratively and millennials are more, my sense is, less interested in institutions and hierarchy and more interested in being entrepreneurial and action oriented and that's what you've said as well. where is the social entrepreneurship in this
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equation? politicians are behind the curve. they're just tackling them in more collaborative ways and led by younger people. a lot of communities are trying to stay up and they're out to date on a lot of stuff. i'd like you to chat on that. >> does that come through the research, david, a desire to build their own social and entrepreneurial organizations? >> i take your point, where is the social entrepreneurship and we should be encouraging systems to bring in young people from all walks of life. >> 80% of young people would like to start their own
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business. i think that's more their engagement for their future life. i do agree young people have more sharing attitude in the way they work and i think the great challenge for traditional political organization is how to integrate the ability which is a lot more post modern in a way traditional political organizations work from the selection of candidates to parties and institution that of course you don't have to take that away but make it more flexible to accommodate with a society that needs individuals to be more empowered to do things. we have traditional parties. how we work in order to have
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young people be able to express their full potential in this sharing way they work. >> hilary, do you have any thoughts? >> in terms of an electoral campaign that we were able to really do was empower people, this is who i am and maybe involved in politics but i want to help bring about change, and it wasn't really they identified with us as a party but they identified with maybe a particular policy that we were pushing forward and i think that was really important. i think the challenge for us is to now our government is to continue that dialogue and make sure that it is a two-way conversation as was said. we said we're going to do this.
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we said we'd do this but things happen and we have to keep that conversation going and focus on. >> one of the things when i saw the data was 20% of what young people want to be social entrepreneurs or to start their own business, life challenges into their own hands and solve them and how does government institutions, how do we support that kind of initiative and how do we, you know, keep the momentum going for that while still working towards engaging people in the political system. also fixing the broken system to allow that to thrive. >> you're absolutely right that young people don't like dealing in hierarchies and politics probably stands out as a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to the
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hierarchy system. don't forget millennials are up to 54, managers in industry and whatever. it's the millennials who hold the answers. can we do this rather than feeding down from the top of the ivory tower. politics might have such an image from the outside for young people. getting involved in that, will i really be absolutely engaged or will i have to start and plug my way through a hierarchy. i don't suspect it would have been the case if we asked that question 10, 20, 30 years ago. it would have been a much more exciting sort of progression. >> we ran such a data centered campaign using databases and technology both in social media
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but in terms of our management. we took a hierarchy out of things. they tended to be savvy, to use the tools and made a difference in engaging people in the campaign. it was more like i've done this for years. i'm going to tell you we were going to just in terms of what we were going to do was applicable and younger people seemed to take to it more quickly. >> we're running out of time, i'm afraid. one quick comment? [ inaudible ]. >> a question about the refugees. please, the magnitude of this cris crisis, this saabs luteally needed and this is wonderful what is a commitment from young
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people all over europe in helping refugees when they're coming to the country. a clear answer from politics and what has to be done. this is not possible that we have in the last three months with my country more than 800,000 people coming. there was no space anymore available for doing, for example, sports at universities because all sports are full of refugees. this is a mg any tud after crisis which demands and is wonderful that young generation is doing so much commitment on that but we need a european answer very quickly on that crisis. sob sorry to make a political statement but this is needed. >> if everyone could just join me in thanking our panelists. what i thought was a wonderful
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discussi discussion. >> thank you all so much for being here. there was a lot of travel involved in coming to participate in this panel, so thank you again. i hope this is the beginning of a conversation. we are really excited about thinking about how we as young people can push the institutions that we work with to be more receptive and i think we have a responsibility to think about how we push institutions of politics and politicians, i think that example is an incredibly important one. we can actually find things can be done differently and be successful. what are those tactics and tools we can share with other campaigns and candidates and young people who are engaging in the political process to be more successful and push those institutions both from the inside and from the outside and the pressure of pushing
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institutions and then pushing from the outside we can get to a place that is where the values and the issues of being in power. i look forward of working with you all as we move forward and thanks for your support and leadership in this project. thank you. attorney general loretta lynch heads to capitol hill this morning testifying at a house judiciary committee hearing. she's expected to be questioned about sentencing guidelines for drug related offenses, technology and law enforcement and the release of thousands of inmates from federal presideiso live at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span3. c-span has the best access to congress. watch live coverage of the house on c-span and the senate on c-span 2.
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watch us live or on your phone at or listen on your radio app. get best access by following c-span and reporter craig kaplan on twitter. stay with c-span and for your best access to congress. the country's second largest operator of for-profit colleges reached a $95.5 million settlement with the department of justice this week. the case which threatened to bankrupt the education management corporation was over allegations that they made false claims to the department of education. loretta lynch address this had in a news conference and also answered questions on the recent terror attacks in paris. this is about 30 minutes. thank you all for being here
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this morning. let me begin by commenting initially on the horrific terrorist attacks that occurred in paris on friday. this was, indeed, a crime not just against paris but a crime against civilization. and this department of justice is committed to doing everything in our power to help bringing those responsible to justice. i spoke with the president and the rest of the national security team at the white house on saturday prior to the president's departure for the g-20 summit. justice department attorneys, the fbi and other agencies are currently working closely with french authorities through our international legal assistance channels to obtain further information that may be relevant to these attacks, and we are working on an expedited basis to ensure that our office of justice for estimation of overseas terrorism is available to assist any american victims and their families. we are indeed working aggressively with the french government to ensure those
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responsible for this carnage are brought to justice. and as this work goes on we will continue to stand in solidarity with france just as france has so often stood with us. our thoughts and our prayers are with the victims and their loved ones at this heartbreaking and this incredibly difficult time. today i am here, however, for an announcement, and i am joined by secretary duncan from the department of education, u.s. attorney david hickam, and the attorney general of iowa tom miller. we have come together to discuss an historic step forward in our collective and ongoing fight against fraudulent and abusive practices in the for profit education industry. now today we are announcing a landmark settlement with education management corporation which became the second largest for profit education company in the united states. education management corporation also known as edmc operates chains of schools around the country under the brand names
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the art insti substitutes, brown mackey, and edmc enrolls more than 100,000 students and approximately 90% of their revenue comes from taxpayers in the form of federal education funding for edmc students. now this case not only highlights the abuses in edmc's recruitment system, it also highlights the brave actions of edmc employees who refuse to go along with the institutions' deceptive recruiting practices. beginning in 2007, two edmc employees blew the whistle on edmc by alleging that it was running a high-pressure recruitment mill, essentially the more students a recruiter was induced to enroll in the school, the more money that recruiter would receive. these employees allege that edmc's recruitment practices violated the incentive compensation ban of title iv of
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the higher education act which prohibits schools from basing recruiters' pay on their success in securing new enrollees. obviously that ban is in place so schools will account for the unique qualities and needs of potential students rather than simply treating them as a vehicle for tapping into federal student aid funds. now despite their alleged conduct edmc has certified its compliance with the ban to the department of education for over a decade falsely claiming federal grant and loan money is a violation of the false claims act. and in 2011 the united states intervened in the case alongside five individual states -- california, florida, illinois, indiana, and minnesota. and since that time, we have aggressively pursued justice in this case on behalf of the students and taxpayers that the incentive compensation ban is designed to protect. now, under the settlement that we are announcing tol+re] edmc
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has agreed to pay $95.5 million to resolve the claims that it falsely obtained federal and state education funds. this makes this the largest false claims act settlement with a for-profit educational institution in history. the unprecedented size of this payment and the stringent compliance measures that edmc has accepted reflect the fact that this kind of abuse hurts not only taxpayers but also the students. many of them nontraditional learners like veterans, older americans, and working parents who trusted edmc to provide an education that would aggress their individual needs. edmc's actions were not only a betrayal of their students' trust, they were a violation of federal law. now this resolution exemplifies the deep commitment to protecting precious public resources, to promoting compliance with the law, and to
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standing up for those who are vulnerable to exploitation. it's an extraordinary accomplishment both for the men and women who fought to achieve it and for future edmc students. and students at educational institutions across the country who will no longer be victimized by unacceptable recruitment practices. now in the days days ahead we'll continue working with our partners at the department of education through initiatives like the interagency task force on for-profit education, to ensure that our nation's aspiring learners are finding and gaining access to educational opportunities that are right for them and that will help them thrive and achieve for many years to come. today's resolution would not have been possible without the efforts of our remarkable team here at the justice department including staff from the civil division as well as the u.s. attorney's offices in pittsburgh and nashville, tennessee. i also want to convey my deepest appreciation to our colleagues at the department of education
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and the office of inspector general for their close cooperation as well and i'd also like to recognize our many state partners for their indispensable leadership in bringing about this historic result. this case is not only an example of what we can achieve when we work together but a demonstration of the values and the commitment and the mission that we all share. and now at this time i'll turn the microphone over to the secretary of education, arne duncan, who will provide additional details on today's announcement. mr. secretary? >> thank you so much. thank you all for being here. thank you so much, attorney general lynch, for your leadership and that of your team and thanks to tom miller and u.s. attorney for their partnership and real leadership on this tough issue. as the attorney general did, i want to thank our inspector general for her leadership on behalf of students and taxpayers and i want to thank our higher education team and our general counsel's office for all of
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their hard work here as well. now, more than ever before, a college degree is the best path to the middle class. but that path has to be a safe one for our nation's students. every hard working student in the country must have a real opportunity to achieve a meaningful, affordable degree. america's commitment to upper mobility, the strength of our economy and our identity is a land of opportunity depends on that. but, unfortunately, not every insti tugs of higher education is focused on those types of opportunities. in fact, some take advantage of both students and taxpayers by gaming the system and not following the rules. others outright lie about their practices, which was exactly the case here. the obama administration has led unprecedented efforts to protect consumers from predatory career colleges. we've cracked down on fraudulent behavior, reining in bad actors. we believe it's critically important both to protect students and taxpayers from
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programs that fail to provide a quality education that leads to success and to empower the public with better information around educational outcomes. today is just another step in that fight to improve accountability and protect both students and taxpayers. in fact, as attorney general lynch said, it's the largest false claim act settlement against an educational institution. edmc wasn't interested in playing by the rules, simply put. through this multiyear investigation led by the u.s. attorney hickton's office and the department of justice and supported by our department and the office of the inspector general, we uncovered substantial evidence that ecmc illegally paid recruiters based upon how many students they enrolled. instead of caring about whether a student would be successful in edmc's programs, the company seemed to only care about revenue at significant cost to both students and taxpayers. edmc got nearly 90% of its revenue from federal financial
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aid, that's all of our money, all of us as taxpayers. i want to thank and say how proud i am of all the folks who worked so hard to challenge the status quo. the settlement should be a very clear warning to other career colleges out there. we will not stand by when you profit illegally off of students and taxpayers. the federal government will continue to work tirelessly with states attorneys generals to assure all colleges follow the law. while many post secondary students face unique challenges and hurdles, those who are enrolled in for-profit and career training programs often are among the most vulnerable. these students absolutely deserve to go to a college with a real understanding of what that college, what the value of that degree will be and what the certificate will mean for their future earnings. a quality education that leads to good outcomes like a well-paying job and a strong future, is still the best investment. it's the best investment that anyone can make in themselves and their families. students seeking a better life
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simply shouldn't have to pay a penalty for following their dreams. i'll stop there and i'll turn it over to u.s. attorney general david hickton. he and his team have worked on this for years. i want to thank you for your hard work and leadership. >> thank you. good morning. fraud against american such fraud victimizes students to achieve a better life. the united states intervened and brought in pittsburgh against education management corporation alleging that it paid compensation to recruiters and lied to the department of education about its conduct. a resolution to that hard fought litigation. systemic false claims by edmc
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there was an illegal compensation plan for its recruiters and admissions personnel to obtain billions of dollars in federal funds. edmc pledged to the united states that it was not paying incentive again sayings when, in fact, it fostered a high-pressure, boiler-room sales operation that resulted in its recruiters' use of abusive tactics to enroll students. these practices enabled edmc to become the second largest provider of for-profit education in the united states. edmc made constant efforts throughout the litigation to trivialize our allegations as mere technical violations. in fact, the violations tainted the very fabric of edmc's
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educational mission and the settlement we announce today demonstrates our unwavering efforts to hold edmc accountable for its breach of trust with the united states and its students. today's announcement also signifies another major achievement in our district's efforts to combat education fraud at all levels. our district prioritized the prosecution of fraud in our education system over five years ago when we established a first of its kind education fraud hotline in western pennsylvania. we have indicted among others the ceo of the largest cyber charter school in pennsylvania for fraudulent abuse of taxpayer funds. today we reaffirm our commitment to eradicate fraud in our education infrastructure by announcing the largest settlement ever in the for-profit education sector.
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we do this because it is a priority of this administration, this president, this attorney general, and the secretary of education, but we also do it because we recognize that investing in education remains the best way for us to retain our standing in an increasingly competitive global economy. a fundamental compact exists between the government and the public that prioritizes the funding of an education system accessible to all and free from fraud and abuse. through its prior practices edmc threatened that compact by violating the trust upon which it is based. edmc turned that compact on its head by placing the pursuit of profits ahead of a legitimate educational mission. our global settlement marks a turning point for edmc and the
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entire for-profit education community. we are deeply grateful for the work of our partners at the department of justice and the department of education and the 43 states that joined with us in that effort. this landmark global settlement reflects a watershed in our efforts to ensure that all of our nation's students have an equal opportunity to a quality affordable higher education. thank you. i'd now like to turn the podium over to iowa attorney general, mr. tom miller. >> thank you. thank you. in addition to the false claims settlement, the states are announcing, indeed, the attorney generals of 39 states and the district of columbia, are announcing today a consent decree agreement with edmc that covers a broad range of activities including and especially the marketing and
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recruitment activities, claims concerning job placement, and other ways they relate to the students. it's a bipartisan agreement involving 20 of the 27 republicans and 19 of the 23 democrats and is broad based, as i mentioned. one of the key areas is in recruitment as the false claims directs as well. concerns about boiler-room. there are broad prohibitions about unfair, deceptive, misleading claims made in the recruitment process and abusive recruit many methods. sort of a new term for us in ag enforcement but that looks towards the so-called pain pressure way of recruiting students. there are broad prohibitions about false claims in the job placement area. we've negotiated for months over those provisions and there's great detail in terms of what they can and can't do and in terms of job placement.
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in any area we have found in the state ag world is where there's a culture or a semiculture of fraud, you're not going to change that by an agreement alone. you need a monitor and you need a monitor and you need a monitor that can make sure the agreement is lived up to. we think we have the best possible monitor, tom perelli, the former associate attorney general that worked so hard in this building. and more significantly, he's been in the monitor in the bridgepoint ashford case of over a year and a half. and that has worked well. there are other provisions we think that are important for students in our agreements with edmc. one has to do with the students that are recruited that really shouldn't have been recruited for a variety of reasons. it doesn't work for them. they're not -- they don't have the background for it. maybe they don't have the computer ability -- feasibility with it. so this provision is directed towards them but others as well.
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if you are a student of theirs and have less than 24 hours credit post-high school, then there's an orientation program to educate you, to make sure that you understand what you are getting into. and if you leave during the orientation program or after, there's no cost and no loans. for the same group of students, for 21 days in online education and seven days on campus, if they drop out, if it's not for them, there's no cost, there's no loans. another problem that we run into is students sign up for a four-year course often, they complete the course, get the degree and find out they can't be licensed in their state. this is typically done in elementary and secondary education where students don't have practice teaching. this agreement provides that they cannot enroll students in states where they don't -- can't get their license based on their degree. it's built on in terms of the
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acceptance of this degree or this accreditation in the job market. if there are relatively few jobs that are open, they cannot enroll those students as well. in this whole area of education and consumer protection generally, there's a lot of disclosur disclosure. in a way, there's too much discloser. people get overwhelmed and none of it gets through. what we have tried to do is two things so that it does get through to people. one is our one pager that students will receive. that will have the number of months that they're going to be in the program, the amount of money, how many people complete the program, how many people out of ten default and if you do complete the program, how many people get jobs. the average salary for graduates and the average debt. this is so that people can relatively see that and understand it. and in addition, we have something that's really new in
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consumer protection in our area, and that is an interactive provision. so that students have to feed in and basically what it looks at is how much the program cost, how much you have to pay back and how much income you are going to have. those basic numbers so that people have that. in addition, loan generators lead generators have been a serious problem in the recruitment unregulated. they're on the internet saying and doing anything to get leads. there are provisions in the agreement where they have to restrict what the lead generators do. and they and the monitor have to monitor the lead generators. there's provisions for a refund or forgiveness of loans in the agreement with edmc. 102 million and $800,000 in
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loans that are owned to edmc. it's 80,000 students. it's about $1,370 on average. and it affects those students over a nine-year period that had less than 24 hours credit and left within 45 days of enrollment. again, to sort of look at that group that are unfairly recruited. we believe that this agreement has been well negotiated on both sides. we negotiated for over a year. we think it was good faith negotiations. you know, we recognize the work that carol and the leadership of the company brought to these good faith negotiations. we think that this agreement is an agreement that can be used with other companies as well. and we look forward to that. and i would like to, in closing, acknowledge the great work by
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the six attorney generals offices that were on the executive committee, connecticut, kentucky, pennsylvania, oregon, illinois and our state of iowa. thank you. >> thank you, tom. and thank you, everyone. i'm not sure who had their hand up first. i will start in the middle and then come back. >> i wanted to start with one question for secretary duncan. there was mention about students that were affected by this, kept talking about how they are victims. can you expand on what the settlement does for past or current students of these programs? this issue has come up with other students. >> what we are talking about is not following the law, breaking the law and lying to us. we are open for business.
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students were lied to, we want to have that conversation and we will move forward. >> i wanted to ask about you some comments that cia director john brennan made this morning in the wake of the paris attacks. he said that there are legal and policy and other developments that have taken place, changes that have taken place recently that have caused certain intelligence gaps that are making it more difficult for agencies to foresee attacks like the one that took place in paris. do you agree with that? can you be any more specific about what legal or policy changes may have gotten in the way here? >> i'm not going to -- i'm not able to provide any more specifics than what director brennan did. i will say certainly we continue to have our ongoing discussions regarding our ability to safely and effectively and efficiently and legally collect information while also preserving privacy interests that are very important not just to american business but to the american people. we had this discussion before. and i think that they're the
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subject of ongoing discussions. i'm not able to comment further except to say that we take these issues very seriously, as does american industry. so all of us are looking at these issues very, very carefully. >> the theory has been floated that the terrorists may have used encrypted technology. is there concrete evidence that they took advantage of encryption? what tools do you need to prevent an isis attack here in the u.s.? >> i'm not going to comment specifically on emerging evidence in the case for obvious reasons. i'm not able to go into the specifics of that. what i will say is that as we have discussed in the past, terrorists use any number of means to communicate, including some encruypted means. we have seen that in cases that have surfaced, for example, garland, texas and the like. we see that as they try to persuade americans to act as well. we recognize not only the importance of encryption but the
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need to do everything we can to protect the american people. as we have stated, we are pursuing a number of options. we're in discussions with industry looking for ways in which they can lawfully provide us information while still preserving privacy. >> more broadly speaking, given the evolving nature of isis threat, what's specifically is the justice department and fbi doing to keep america safe? this threat against washington, d.c. that isis made, how secure are we? what are we doing to ensure that what happened in paris doesn't happen here? >> protecting america from another terrorist attack, protecting the american people is my highest priority of the department of justice and the administration. we are continuing ongoing efforts that we always have to monitor details that we learn of and to make sure that we're taking the appropriate steps to ramp up our defenses. we take every threat seriously.
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we conduct the appropriate investigations. and this is something that we -- the subject of ongoing review in terms of our own actions that we undertake to protect the american people. i'm not able to get into specifics of those. certainly, i can tell that you with respect to our fight against isis, the issue of foreign terrorist fighters leaving the u.s. is one that has been of great concern to us here at the department of justice for some time. as we have talked about a number of individuals have tried to leave the u.s. much, much smaller numbers than europe. we have far fewer people who make that effort and who return than europe. but still, something that we take extremely seriously. therery a number of cases against individuals who have attempted to leave and provide material support in syria. >> about the settlement, several of you referred to it as unprecedented and as a warning to the sector. many are calling it a small
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number considering the billions have that have gone to this company. consider you comment why you think this is a fair number? also, if you could explain -- you are saying this has no affect on the students' loan discharges for those who attended? >> i will defer to secretary duncan on both those questions. let me say at the outset that an important part of this settlement was factoring the company's ability to pay. so it does not reflect the total amount of federal funds that we believe were fraudulently obtained. you are correct in that we think that their widespread practices did generate a substantial drain on the public. with respect to your question on the students, i will ask secretary duncan to speak to that. thank you. >> so to be clear, what was found here was not misrepresentation to students. it was breaking the law and lying to us. if there is evidence of misrepresentation to students, we want to hear that and we're
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open for business. one on one cases, we will continue to look at and investigate. where students have issues, let us know. >> what the cfpd was into the discussion? >> i'm sure they're aware. i don't know to what level. >> madam attorney general? with all the arrests that you mentioned, how would you describe the current threat from isis to the u.s.? what do you expect the public to do over the next weeks, months? >> well, i think that with respect to our view of the threat that isis poses, they are certainly one of the most deadly terrorist organizations. we are always watching to determine their impact and whether they have sufficient reach within the u.s. to carry out similar attacks. i think the cases that i mentioned, again, talk about individuals who have been seeking to leave and become what we call foreign terrorist fighters. a number of them had been prosecuted. while those numbers are far fewer than europe has seen,
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obviously, they're of great concern to us. so we are monitoring that situation. what i would say is to urge all americans to continue as we have since the deadly attacks on our own shores to be vigilant, to be on the alert and to look out for attacks that as -- as we have seen in the past. ta not let this change our way of life or values. >> do you feel there's adequate intelligence sharing with our european counterparts to prevent people like the paris attackers who we know went over to syria and trained from boarding a plane and coming to the u.s. given the visa waiver program? >> well, i'm not going to get into the specifics of the information that we share with our foreign counterparts except to say that our relationship with our european counterparts in this area is robust and it is strong and we are always working to make sure that not only we but they have the information they need to safeguard against these incidents and specific people if we learn of them. >> thank you so much.
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we are live on capitol hill this morning where attorney general loretta lynch is set to receive before the house judiciary committee on issues facing the justice department. she is expected to get questions on a number of topics, including implementation of the usa freedom act, efforts to reform the criminal justice system and the release of thousands of federal inmates as a result of changes to drug sentencing guidelines. throughout today's hearing, we are asking what you think should be the top priorities for the justice department. we invite you to weigh in at we may read some responses on the air.
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again that's waiting the start of testimony from attorney general loretta lynch this morning before the house judiciary committee. she will be talking about issues facing the justice department. should get under way in a couple of moments here as members of the committee continue to file in. a couple of news stories. paul ryan announcing in a closed meeting of republicans this morning that he hopes the house will take action this week to address refugees from syria. according to a source in that room, ryan said he is not sure what piece of legislation will get a vote, but there are
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several options under consideration. also, this from the associated press. france's president is planning to travel to washington and moscow next week to discuss ways of increasing international cooperation and to settle the syrian crisis. a statement from his office said he will meet with president obama and putin after that.
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resetting the scene here on tuesday morning. live on capitol hill where we are expected testimony this morning from attorney general loretta lynch. she's set to testify this morning before the house judiciary committee. she will be talking about some of the issues that are facing the justice department. she should be arriving here in just a moment. we do expect questions on implementation of the usa freedom act, efforts to reform the criminal justice system. also, a look at the release of thousands of federal inmates as a result of changes to drug sentencing guidelines. again, we are opening our facebook page to your comments about what you think the top
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priorities for the justice department should be. go to throughout the hearing -- actually, after the hearing, we hope to be able to get some of your responses on the air.
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the judiciary committee will come to order. we welcome everyone to this morning's hearing on the oversight of the u.s. democrat of justice. will begin by recognizing myself for an opening statement. welcome, attorney general lynch, to your first appearance before the house judiciary committee
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since your confirmation earlier this year. we're pleased to have you here with us. last week we witnessed horrific terrorist attacks in paris which claimed the lives of over 120 innocent civilians and for which isis has taken credit. our thoughts and prayers remain with the french people, and we mourn with them. at the same time, these terrorist attacks are a stark reminder that isis poses a threat to our allies and america. yet this reality is not clearly seen by our president. just hours before the attack, president obama boasted that isis is contained. isis is not contained in syria. it is not contained in europe. and we know isis is continuing its campaign of propaganda here in the u.s. we know from the paris attack that at least one of the perpetrators was registered as a refugee from syria in countries through which he traveled on his way to france. just last month, fbi director
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comey told this committee that the u.s. represent gee vetting process is not adequate to guarantee that syrians referred for resettlement in the u.s. are not terrorists who plan to harm us. yet the president presses on with his plan to resettle at least 10,000 syrian refugees during this fiscal year alone. i look forward to hearing your thoughts on this issue considering that the top counterterrorism investigator in the u.s. consistently states that the databases and law enforcement resources are not available to properly vet syrians. further more, reports indicate that despite repeated congressional action to the contrary, this administration thinks terrorists who are cut from the same cloth as the paris attackers and many are deemed too dangerous for release should be brought to the united states. transferring these combatants to the united states will only increase their odds of being released inside the u.s.
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these public and national security concerns coupled with unanswered questions about the cost and logistics of bringing detainees into the u.s. should cause the administration to hit pause on its reckless decision to close the guantanamo detention facility. enemy combatants should remain outside of the unit wheed state where they can be detained away from our citizens. in addition to the mounting national security threats facing the department of justice, i would also like to focus on the need for an impartial justice department. americans have become more and more suspicious that their government agencies are biased. to understand this, one need look no further than the well founded allegations that the irs targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny. after numerous appeals to appoint a special council to investigate this, last month justice department announced
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that no criminal prosecution would be brought against irs personnel in connection with this matter. it is not difficult to understand why a special council was needed given that only those organizations opposed to the president's overreaching agenda were targeted by high ranking irs officials. apparently, officials at the irs share secretary clinton's abhorrent notion that republicans are quote the enemy. i am profoundly disturbed by the administration's handling of this matter. at every turn, president obama and administration officials repeatedly and publically undermine the investigation. when the house of representatives took the responsible step of calling for the appointment of a special council to investigate the matter, our concerns and those of the individuals targeted by the irs went unresolved by the administration. now that your department has concluded its investigation, i look forward to discussing the
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department's decision with you in greater detail. given the controversy surrounding the mishandling of the irs targeting scandal, it is critical that the justice department clearly demonstrate to the american people that it will handle with impartiality its investigation surrounding former secretary of state hillary clinton's use of a private e-mail server for official purposes. earlier this year, two inspectors general reported that classified information was contained within the private e-mails of former secretary of state hillary clinton and have referred the matter to the justice department. during his appearance before the committee last month, fbi dr i director comey vowed this investigation will be conducted promptly, professionally and independently. rest assured, congress and the american people will hold both the bureau and the department to this standard. the committee also remains concerned that the department is subverting congress's budget authority by using set slmentes
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to funnel emergency to third party interest groups. the concern is institutional and non-partisan, yet rather than suspend the practice, doj has expanded it while quietly obstructing the committee's investigation. last week, the department finally produced a small subset of relevant documents that the committee requested 11 months ago. i would like to know, madam attorney general, what you and -- as an experienced prosecutor would do if a large corporation behaved this way in an investigation. as we sit with you today, attorney general lynch, law enforcement agencies across the country face profound challenges. 31 police officers have been shot to death this year alone. in many places, officers are understandably asking whether it is worth pursuing violent criminalsdo]r or otherwise put themselves in harm's way less they be the targets of
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intentional violence or community backlash. force must be used appropriately and police officers must take proper steps to protect innocent civilians. however, irresponsible anti-police activity from many in the advocacy community and the justice department's ongoing efforts to micromanage state and local police agencies have only served to exacerbate the divide between police and citizens. this trend cannot continue. many american cities have seen a spike in violent crime. in baltimore, homicides are up 71%. in august of this year, the number of murders here in washington, d.c. already matched the number for all of 2014. other cities have seen similar increases in violent crime. despite these grim statistics, however, the obama administration has continued to support initiatives that will only exacerbate this violence. on november 1 of this year, nearly 6,000 federal drug offenders were released from prison pursuant to a 2014
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sentencing commission amendment which the justice department supported. over the next two years, some additional 10,000 offenders will be released early. this ill-advised amendment applies without regard to an inmate's criminal history and result in the le release of violent criminals. we want to prevent release of serious violent criminals. speaking of releasing violent individuals, the murder of kate stainly is a tragic reminder that the lack of appropriate immigration enforcement in our nation today and the reckless sanctuary policies in many cities across the country can have deadly consequences. it is not enough for administration officials to pay lip service to the problems presented by sanctuary cities. federal agencies, including the justice department, must take meaningful steps to ensure that
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criminal aliens released from federal custody are promptly deported. attorney general lynch, i look forward to hearing your views on all these important topics today as well as on other issues of significance to the justice department and to our nation. thank you and now i am pleased to recognize the ranking member of the committee, the gentlemen from michigan, mr. conyers. >> thank you. your opening statement could be the basis of a hearing of its own. i appreciate your views. madam attorney general, welcome to the house judiciary committee. nearly seven months ago, after much delay in the senate, you took over the department of justice with not one but two tours of duty at the u.s. attorney for the eastern
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district of new york. you are unquestionably the right leader at the right time for the important work of the department of justice. nowhere is your leadership more important than in national security. the attacks on paris, france, leave no doubt that our most pressing mission, yours and ours, remains protecting the american people. and unfortunately, history shows that tragic events like these that are followed by calls for drastic action. already, we have proposals to undo encryption, to roll back surveillance reform and deport some of the most vulnerable among us.
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i urge restraint in these matters, madam attorney general. at this time, we have very little information about how the attacks were carried out. rather than use these events as an excuse to advance policies that otherwise betray our values, i urge the intelligence community, including the department of justice, to focus on the most effective tools in our toolbox. targeted surveillance, targeted investigation and smart policing. back at home, you have cultivated strong relationships in the police community. but you are not afraid to call out bad behavior or to prosecute police officers when circumstances warrant. that experience will prove invaluable as the department,
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along with this committee, takes its next steps on criminal justice reform. under your leadership, the civil rights division continues its work with police departments around the country to ensure that state and local policing practices comport with the constitution. the office of juvenile justice is also working hard to disrupt what you have called the cycle of criminality and incarceration. i commend you for your work on this front, and i look forward to our partnership as this committee moves forward with its own package of criminal justice reforms. another area where we look to you for leadership is enforcement of voting rights.
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earlier this year, observing the 50th anniversary of the voting rights act, you remarked, it is the lesson of every generation that the price of freedom vigil. opponents of free and fair access to the voting booth have neither retreat eed nor surrendered. the unfortunate truth of that plays out across the country today. no place more vividly than in the state of alabama where officials plan to close 31 drivers license offices across the state, including those in every county in which african-americans make up more than 75% of registered voters. kouped with alabama's strict new voter i.d. law, these closings will make it even harder for
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many citizens to obtain the identification now required to cast a vote. the discriminatory impact of this plan plays out in other ways, too. imagine having to drive hundreds of miles across rural alabama to renew your driver's license. we know that burden will weigh heaviest on the state's poorest citizens. borrowing again from your words, it is incumbent on all of us to stand up, to speak out and to make clear that no end is worth the means of disenfranchisement. no small-minded policy is worth the cheapening of our democrat six finally, madam attorney general, i want to comment on the virtue of your being a new leader at the department of
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justice ready to make a fresh start with this committee. today you will hear questions, no doubt, about benghazi, planned parenthood, operation fast and furious and lois lerner at the irs. these are not matters that affect a whole lot of our constituents, but you will hear questions about them and comments anyway. my advise to you that you don't need is stick to the facts and the law, and you will be fine. we know that some members are displeased with the outcome of the department's investigation into the lois lerner matter. but we also know that your investigators were as thorough
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as can be. they conducted over 100 interviews, collected more than one million pages of documents and closely analyzed almost 500 applications for tax exempt status. some members may wish your predecessor had appointed a special counsel to investigate the matter. but both the plain text of the applicable regulations and the congressional research tell us otherwise. the facts of the case did not involve senior administration officials, they did not present a conflict of interest to the department of justice. so the appointment of a special counsel was simply not appropriate in this matter. too often your predecessor, who i still admire, found himself
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the target of personal insults in this committee and elsewhere. and i like to think that all of us in this room and on this committee regret the frequent attacks on his character, or at least realize that those attacks were almost entirely unproductive. we have a chance to start over today. we can do better. progressives and conservatives, congress and the administration, there is so much common ground between us to be explored, particularly in the work of the department of justice. and so i am so glad that you are here with us today. and i look forward to your testimony. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. conyers. all other members' opening
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statements will be made a part of the record. we again welcome our distinguished witness. if you would rise. we will begin by swearing you in. do you swear that the testimony you are about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? >> i do. >> thank you very much. please be seated. let the record reflect that the witness has responded in the affirmative. i will now begin by introducing our witness today. the attorney general of the united states, ms. loretta lynch. attorney general lynch was sworn in as the 83rd attorney general of the united states on april 27, 2015. she began her career in public service by joining the united states attorney's office for the eastern district of new york. after nine years, miss lynch was appointed by president bill clinton to lead that office as united states attorney. a post she held until 2001. she then worked in private
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practice until 2010 when president obama asked her to resume leadership of the united states attorney's office in brooklyn. she's a graduate of harvard college and harvard law school. attorney general lynch, we welcome your first appearance before the judiciary committee and look forward to your testimony. your entire written statement will be made a part of the record. we ask that you summarize your testimony in five minutes. thank you and please begin at your convenience. >> thank you, sir. good morning, chairman goodlatte, ranking member conyers and distinguished members of this committee. i am very grateful for the opportunity to appear before you today to share some of the recent accomplishments of the u.s. department of justice, to discuss some of my top priorities as attorney general and to explore ways that we can continue to work together. i do want to begin, however, by commenting on friday's reprehensible and heartbreaking attacks in paris.
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the department of justice and the entire obama administration stand in solidarity with france just as france has so often stood with us. as president obama said, this is not just an attack on paris or the people of france. it is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share. we are committed to doing everything within our power to assist our french law enforcement colleagues in bringing those responsible for this monstrous act of terror to justice. as we go forward, our thoughts and our prayers, of course, we main with the victims and their loved ones. as this committee well knows, our nation faces a host of serious, varied and evolving challenges. our highest priority must always be the security of our homeland and we are act being aggressively to diffuse threats. we are working to uncover and disrupt plots that take aim at our people, our infrastructure
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and our way of life. we continue to investigate and apprehend those who seek to harm us, including upwards of 70 individuals charged since 2013 for conduct related to foreign fighter activity and home grown violent extremism. of course, we remain focused on the threat posed by domestic extremists as well. at the same time, we are placing particular emphasis on countering security threats in cyberspace. we are on guard against individuals, organized groups, terrorists and state actors who might attempt to steal other data, endanger our economy, compromise our privacy and threaten our security. in recognition of the need for strong public private patter inships, we have treated a cyber security unit within our computer crime and intellectual section and announced a national security division outreach initiative designed to promote information sharing and
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resilience as part of the division's national asset protection program. i have also been meeting personally with corporate executives and general counsel around the country to spread our message of cyber awareness to encourage strategic collaboration and to find new ways to protect american consumers. of course, to bring about the stronger nation that we all seek, we must also empower the communities within our borders. across this country, brave police officers risk their lives every day to protect our neighborhoods and serve the residents of their jurisdictions. we are tremendously grateful for their dedication and their valor. we have seen the devastating results of mistrust between law enforcement officers and the citizens we serve. we have experienced the consequences when decades of tension erupt into unrest. during the first 100 days of my tenure, i conducted a six city community policing tour to engage with communities that
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have made significant progress in this area. in each city, i convened round table discussions that included law enforcement, public officials, civic leaders and young people where participants shared some of the most effective ways that citizens and law enforcement officers could join forces to foster trust, to build respect and to spread mutual understanding. restoring that essential trust is one of my top priorities. the department intend dozs to d everything we can to foster those bonds and create safer and fairer communities across the country. we are also paying special attention to vulnerable victims in our communities, particularly those caught in human trafficking. in september, i announced that the department would be extending $44 million in new grant funding to help support research, bring more traffickers to justice and care for survi
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survivo survivors. at this moment, i really want to thank our partners in congress for their efforts. by tripling human trafficking related funding for our office of justice programs in fis cass year 2015, congress has instrumental in allowing us to increase our grant funding in this critical area. this october, marks the 15th anniversary of the trafficking victims protection act which is certainly a fitting occasion to redouble our commitment to eradicating this practice. finally, i would like to address our efforts on criminal justice reform at the federal level. i commend the committee members who have come together to help chart a new course on criminal justice that will make our society both stronger and more secure. it is, of course, built in part on the success of the smart on crime initiative that my predecessor, attorney jern eric holder launched in 2013 which shifted our approach away from harsh mandatory centers for low
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level drug offenses and enabled us to focus on violent defendants while supporting rehabilitati rehabilitation. more must be done. prison spending has increasingly displaced other critical public safety investments. to make our sentencing laws more efficient, more effective and more just, congressional action is needed. reform has been embraced by prosecutors, law enforcement and policy makers of all stripes. the justice department is eager to see meaningful sentencing reform enacted during this congress. we thank you for the chance to work with you on that. mr. chairman, ranking member, thank you so much for the chance to speak with you today and thank you all for your ongoing support of the justice department's efforts. i look forward to working closely with you to advancthe objectives that we all share. i'm pleased to answer questions from this body at this time. thank you. >> thank you, general lynch.
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we will proceed under the five minute rule with questions for witness. i will begin by recognizing myself. yesterday, a video reportedly linked to isis was posted stating that as we struck france in the center of its abode in paris, then we swear that we will strike america at its center in washington. there's little doubt that isis views the united states and the west as an enemy. there's little doubt that our immigration laws have been abused on a number of occasions by people intending to perpetrate harm against the united states. do you agree with what your own fbi director told this committee regarding the inability to adequately vet and confirm the true identity because of the lack of information, databases, law enforcement resources, intelligence resources and military resources available to us in syria of syrians who have applied for refugee resettlement
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in the united states? >> thank you, mr. chairman. with respect to that important issue, as i have indicated, the most important priority of the department of justice is the protection of the american people. certainly, national security and terrorism are one of my own top priorities. and certainly an area of concern for all of us. that is certainly our main concern. at the same time, we have a system for allowing not just immigration but refugee entrance into the country. as the fbi director has noted, there is a process in place that allows for significant vetting of refugees from all countries. >> let me interrupt. he said something contrary with regard to the situation with syrians. he said, we can query our database until the cows come ho home. but there bill be nothing to show up because we have no record on that person. >> certainly with respect to the databases that the director was referring to, as he noted i believe before this committee, there is a korescreening proces
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that has data. fbi, department of defense, department of homeland security, national terrorism -- national counterterrorism center. much information is vetted and quarried. certainly, a lot of the information that is vetted does have to be inputted into the system. >> in the case of syria, there's -- you can't go to the government offices in that country. they're in disarray. you can't go interview people who know people who are applying for this status. do you disagree with the fbi director when he says that vet ing syrian refugees is extremely difficult if not impossible? >> well, mr. chairman, i'm not sure he said it was impossible. certainly, the drn not only the department of justice but all of our agencies will make every effort to vet every refugee coming into this country from the databases to the interviews
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that those individuals are subject to to the biometric screening as well. there are challenges to that process because of the situation in syria. but i would note, however, that we do have the benefit of having that significant and robust screening process in place. a process that europe has not been to set up which renders them more vulnerable. >> i think we will be vulnerable when it comes to people from syria when we can't get access to those databases because the country is in disarray and we can't even gather information fresh, new because we can't access the people that we could talk to. let me move on to another topic. the latest vabavailable data sh that during fiscal year 2015, the government reported 6002 new weapons convictions. this is down 5.8% from the previous year when the number of convictions totaled 3 isn,3,673.
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the number is down 15.5% from three years ago. convictions over past year are lower than ten years ago. overall the data shows convictions of this type, weapons violations, are down 34.8% from the level of 9,206 reported in 2005. the president has called for new gun control laws. yet your department has seen weapons prosecutions and convictions fall to levels not seen in over a decade. how do you explain such a precipitous drop in weapon prosecutions and convictions under this administration? why is such little emphasis placed on these types of prosecutions when the president has called for yet more laws when the current lawyers are s being enforced? >> with regard to the department of justice enforcement of the gun laws, we take those gun laws very seriously. are committed to using the full laws and regulations on the books. we use those laws at the federal
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level in conjunction with our many and numerous violent crime initiatives. for example, in my former position as u.s. attorney, in the eastern district of new york, many of our gang cases also carried with them firearms charges. they would not necessarily be the lead charge. they may not be reflected in the data you have. they are an important tool in every prosecutor's arsenal in combating violent crime. >> why aren't they be being prosecuted for those violations? by the way, this doesn't just mean using a firearm in the commission of a crime. it means illegal sales of firearms. it means lying on the instant check system of which the last year we have complete data. 76,000 people were found to have committed the felony of swearing to false information on that form. 5,000 were referred for prosecution. the 94 u.s. attorneys offices across the country could only find time to prosecute 62 out of
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7 76,000. somebody knows even if they are caught -- often they are not caught because the system doesn't have all the information it needs. even if they are caught, they often find that the odds are one in 1,000 that they will be prosecuted even when they are caught. what are you doing about that? what should be done about it? why has this decline been so precipitous over the last several years? >> well, congressman, with é, types of cases that are prosecuted, as i indicated, a lot of the firearms prosecutions are done in conjunction with our violent crime program. they may not show up in your statistics as the lead charges. they are significant part of the arsenal that every federal prosecutor utilizes. i have convened a summit with the top elected official, police chiefs and leaders of major cities to talk about violent crime that's currently taking place in several major cities
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with the focus on finding the causes and finding the best ways to direct federal resources to those particular cities. >> we expect the prosecutions to go up as a result of that? >> congressman, what we do is we look at the root causes of violent in a particular area. if, for example, the firearms were the issue there, we would focus our efforts there. we follow the facts. >> not necessarily prosecution for the gun violation. if that's the case, would you agree that it doesn't make sense to add new gun laws when we already have hundreds of them that are not being enforced today and you don't seem to anticipate an increase in the use of those current laws to prosecute people who misuse firearms? >> i think at this point it would be difficult to speculate as to what numbers would look like in a year with respect to any particular criminal program. what i would say is the department of justice is committed to using all of the laws that are on the books as part of our violent crime initiative, as part of our
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desire to keep communities safe. that does include our firearms laws. >> i want to cover one more topic that concerns me greatly. during the fbi's investigation of the irs matter, the president stated on super bowl sunday that there was not, quote, even a smidgen of corruption at the irir irs. two weeks ago the president stated with respect to secretary clinton's e-mails, quote, this is not a situation in which america's national security was endangered, end quote. should we expect when the fbi finishes its investigation of this matter that no charges will be filed? does the department allow statements by the president to dictate its practices? >> the department reviews facts and evidence submitted before it. we apply the law to the facts and evidence. we take the appropriate steps in every matter that we review. that is how we will essentially manage every matter under our
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purview, whether it relates to the irgs, an e-mail matter or every matter that comes before us. with respect to the president's comment, they have no influence on how the department manages these matters. >> i'm glad to hear you say that. in your view, wasn't it inappropriate for the president to once again inject his personal views into an ongoing fbi investigation? >> mr. chairman, i don't have a comment on the president's expression of his views. >> he's a chief executive officer of the united states. everything that operates within the executive branch is under his purview including the independent nature of the fbi in conducting investigations. wouldn't it be better if the president of the united states did not comment on the merits of the those investigations? >> i don't have a comment on the president's statements. >> thank you very much. the chair recognizes the ranking member, the gentleman from michigan.
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>> thank you very much, chairman goodlatte. attorney general lynch, i want to thank you again for speaking at my panel at this year's congressional black caucus legislative forum. it was marvelous. at that event you spoke about the breakdown in trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. you also spoke about getting to the root of the problem with a comprehensive approach to training, to policy and to research. many of the law enforcement officers in attendance agreed with your comments. how are you planning on reaching out to the broader law enforcement community to promote these ideas? >> thank you, mr. conyers. this is, in fact, one of my top priorities.
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i'm proud to say that the department of justice has already begun the type of outreach that i was discussing at that particular event. through our cops particular, the police and service office, we reach out directly to police departments cross the country and offer technical assistance. we offer training. we offer peer-to-peer support. we have found an incredibly effective way to share information within the law enforcement community is peer-to-peer, police officer-to-police officer, chief-to-chief. so we work with the departments that have in fact, made great strides in police-community relations and match them up with other departments who are having challenges in this area and who would be receptive to their input. i also, as i note indeed my opening statement, have been a six-city community policing tourment as i talked with residents, with young people, elected leaders, i also talked
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with police officers. i do meet with chiefs and supervisors but i talk with the rank and file to get their ideas a as to what has worked in their city, why a positive relationship has developed. in the cities where they have had challenges and where they have had struggles. i have listened to 24r stories of commitment, dedication and to their embrace of community policing and concern for residents as a program and policy that makes policing more efficient. i'm incredibly proud to support those efforts. >> thank you. in recent weeks there have been some suggestions, some from within your department, that our dialogue on these issues have somehow reduced the willingness of some police officers to perform their duties. i know of no real evidence to substantiate this claim.
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but in your opinion, does that conversation about civil rights and the appropriate use of force by police somehow make us less safe? >> mr. congressman, our discussion about civil rights and the appropriate use of force and all police tactics can only serve to make all of us, community members and police officers, safer. in my discussions with police officers around the country, i have found positive engagement on these issues. i have found them to have some of the best thoughts and best practices to share with other departments on these issues. issues like the best practices for de-escalation of certain situations. issues like the best practices for maintaining a relationship with community organizations and citizens councils. issues on police safety. they have provided us valuable input such as providing
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bulletproof vests, body worn cameras. they are focusing on the best ways to use these new technologies. certainly while there is anecdotal evidence, there is no data to support it. what i have seen in my travels is the dedication, the commitment, and the resolve of our brave men and women in law enforcement to embracing the 21st century task force recommendations and continues to have a dialogue that makes our country safer for all. >> thank you. the state of alabama's plan to close 31 driver's license offices demonstrates how one policy decision can have wide-ranging discriminatory effects. the media a has picked up on this. and this will make it harder for citizens of these rural counties to vote. and i'm just as concerned about
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the discriminatory economic effects of this decision, which will fall hardest on rural, poor, and african-american communities. i imagine a black farmer driving hundreds of miles across rural alabama to renew an expired driver's license. and on this committee we know what might happen to such a young man. what tools does the department have to combat discrimination in all of the ways that manifest itself? and how are you going to be using these tools in this case? >> thank you, congressman. with respect to the department's enforcement of our various civil rights statutes, it is certainly robust and will continue to be so. while we no longer have the advantage of the preclearance provisions that were in the voting rights act, we still have
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sufficient provisions that allow us to review actions and decisions taken albeit after the fact that determine whether there has been a discriminatory intent or, as is very often the case, a discriminatory result. we can engage in negotiation and conversations. many times we do that before we even move to litigation in an attempt to reason with or have a discussion with entities making significant changes. often those discussions are very productive. i was pleased to see after discussions with members of congress that the state of alabama may be making some modifications to those changes. and certainly those types of discussions are an efficient way to bring about change and raise important issues. i will reiterate the department of justice is committed to enforcing the civil rights laws we do have on the books. we are committed to way vigorous review of matters brought to our attention and will ensure full and fair and efficient review of
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those matters and take the a action that is appropriate. >> thank you so much. last question. more than 30,000 people die from gun violence in this country every year. what can this committee, the committee on the judiciary right now do that would save at least some of those lives? >> well, mr. congressman, i think there is a significant debate and discussion going on as to how to best save lives in that situation. and i think that all voices are necessary in that debate and discussion. and certainly if congress were to consider new laws, i'm sure this committee would be deeply involved in discussions. that is of course up to congress as part of your purview. and the department would be happy to work with you with regard to that. i think we also have to look at the root causes of the violence. s a i indicated in response to
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an earlier question, i convened a summit on police chiefs and mayors as well as police executives. and what the department is doing is looking for ways to identify the root causes of so much of the violence that we are seeing. even as violence is at historic lows nationwide. we still have some communities that struggle with this issue. in some instances it is gun violence. some we see an increase in drug use, methamphetamine, heroin, opioids. just yesterday i met with representatives from the national conference of mayors and had discussions on these very issues about the differences that all communities present and the need to have a full and robust discussion about these issues. >> thank you so much for your testimony and your views. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you, mr. conyers. the chair recognizes the gentleman from wisconsin for five minutes.
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>> thank you very much, madam attorney general. welcome. we hope to be seeing you for a bit, at least for the next 14 months. i have a question relative to the issue of the guantanamo detainees. the president is expected to sign into law that prohibits federal funds to be used to move detainees from guantanamo bay to the united states. gregory hague recently wrote an op ed arguing that the law is unconstitutional and that president obama can legally ignore it. since you are america's top lawyer, do you believe that president obama could legally ignore legislation prohibiting the transfer of detainees to american soil? >> thank you, mr. congressman. what i would say on this issue certainly is, as the administration has stated, the closure of guantanamo bay is something that is part of the
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administration's policy and the department of justice supports that as well. at this point in time i believe the current state of the law is that individuals are not transferred from guantanamo to u.s. shores. that position is reiterated by the legislation that you mentioned. my understanding is that you indicated that i do believe the president has indicated that he would sign that. certainly it's the position of the department of justice that we would follow the law of the land in regard to that issue. >> well, the question i have is you believe that the law is unconstitutional, as mr. craig as opined in last week's "washington post". would you ignore the law based upon that argument? >> well, mr. congressman, i'm not familiar enough on mr. craig's analysis to comment about that. certainly with respect to the existing law, the department of
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justice is fully committed to following that. and the closure of guantanamo bay is being carried out in compliance with that law. i believe it is the view of the department that we would certainly observe the laws as passed by congress and signed by the president. only very rarely would we take the step of finding that an unconstitutional provision was something that we could not manage. we would of course seek to work with congress and the administration to resolve that issue. >> you know, does this mean that you think it's okay for the president to transfer these people who are some of the world's most dangerous terrorists to countries other than the united states but it would not be okay for him to transfer them to the united states? >> well, mr. congressman, the current state of law allows for the transfer of certain detainees from guantanamo bay. those, a after a vigorous review process, are placed in that
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transfer category. two countries that after significant vetting and promises of management, can accept them. with respect to individuals being transferred to the united states, the law currently does not allow for that. and that is not, as i am aware of, going to be contemplated given the legal prescriptions. >> okay. let me ask one question on an unrelated matter. as you may know, the house last month passed a bill called the judicial redress which, in my opinion, is essential to enforcing an umbrella agreement to transfer law enforcement information from certain european countries to the united states and vice versa. if the senate failed to pass this bill, in your opinion, what will be the effect on the sharing of law enforcement data with certain of our european allies? >> thank you, congressman. we fully support the judicial redress act.
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i would like to thank you and the other members for the important work that you have done on this issue. as you have noted, this legislation is critical to continued law enforcement sharing of information from the u.s. and the european union. in fact, i have been involved in discussions with ministers from the european union on the data protection act, often called the umbrella act, as well as the judicial redress act. it is certainly our view that this important legislation should be passed. it would provide, a as you know, redress for european union citizens should there be an unauthorized or misuse of their data here in the u.s., which is a privilege engaged by u.s. citizens within the european union. we to have a grave risk of not having the data agreement. the importance, the critical nature of making sure we have safe and secure portals for transferring information from one law enforcement entity to
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another. >> let me make one point as my time is expiring. while a judicial redress act does not deal with the sharing of counterterrorism information, there frequently is an interface between those who want to commit terrorist activity and those who do commit petty crimes which would end up being in the law enforcement file. and i would just look at today's "new york times" where comments relative to the attack in paris what a apparently happened at a neighborhood in brussels, a neighborhood known for extremists, a trail of petty climbs and missed plots. the judicial redress act might be able to put the pieces of the puzzle together for petty crimes so there can be missed plots. thank you for your support. >> thank you, mr. congressman.
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>> thank you. the chair recognizes the gentleman from new york for five minutes. >> i thank you, chairman. madam attorney general, since september 11th, 2001, the department of justice established and oversaw a victim's compensation fund that provided $7 billion to families who lost loved ones on that day. in the years a after the attacks it became clear thousands of first responders continued to suffer major health con questions. thousands of lawsuits were filed by others and these victims. we reopened the victims recompensation fund for those families whose losses became apparent after september 11th. providing them an alternative to litigation. in the last five years, the
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victims compensation fund has provided nearly 6,300 first responders with $1.4 billion in compensation determinations. since we enacted the bill, i am aware of no further 9/11 related lawsuits. despite its current success, september 30th, 2015, congress allowed the world trade center health program to expire. fortunately, there is legislation pending in the house to permanently reauthorize the victims compensation fund and the world trade center health program. they have the cosponsorship of 247 cosponsors of majority of the house, including more than 50 republicans. and filibuster majority in the senate was 65 cosponsors. if congress failed to act, thousands of first responders would lose access to compensation they fend to support their families when they are tragically gone.
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they are sprader to shutter their operations. if dcf is not fully funded and reauthorize said, first responders who have received a notice of their compensation could actually see that cut up to 50%. we are literally talking about taking money out of the hands of a sick police officer. i can deeply saddened to think that is how congress plans to remember the heroes of 9/11. attorney general lynch, do you agree this is not the proper way to honor the heroes of 9/11. don't you think the firefighters and police officers who risk their own lives and suffered health con questions deserve the full support of the american people and fully funded victims compensation fund? >> thank you, mr. congressman. this is indeed an important issue. of course we will always be deeply in debted to the first responders and brave men and women who risked their lives to
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carry out the recovery efforts at ground zero at 9/11. certainly it is an important issue both as attorney general and someone in new york on 9/11 and had friends and former colleagues who were in the group of those on the scene and who were involved in those activities. this is in fact, a serious issue for those who were affected by it. and i greatly appreciate your expression of compassion for those who have fallen ill. with respect to the bill that is currently pending, certainly on behalf of the department of justice, we would do all we could to work with you, to make sure there were any questions that could be addressed. this is indeed an important issue. again, i think it is something that is -- that deserves strong review, serious consideration. please let us know how the department can be of assistance to any of the members as they consider this important issue. >> well, thank you. as you may know, chairman
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goodlatte and others have introduced legislation to reopen the dcf. unfortunately their bill would open the fund only temporarily and authorize very limited funding. it was heavily criticized as a result. it has brought bipartisan support. there is a bill like the black lung program we have for black lung survivors. like the nuclear program for people who were irradiated as a result of nuclear tests. to everything you can to see this legislation is permanently reauthorized and fully funded as soon as possible. >> yes. thank you, sir. >> thank you. i added another question on a different topic. mr. sensenbrenner referred, and
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you referred to the statute who says you can't bring guantanamo detainees to the united states. the chairman in his opening statements said this might be dangerous to do so. my question is the following. if detain -- if guantanamo were closed, if detainees were brought to super max facilities, prisons in the united states, in what conceivable way could this threaten anyone's safety? in what conceivable way could housing someone in a super max federal prison affect the local community? especially when you are talking about 60 or 70 people, not 7,000 people, throughout the country. and has anyone ever escaped from a super max prison? >> i to not believe anyone has escaped from super max. >> ever? >> as far as i know, they have
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never escaped from super max. certainly the men and women of the bureau on of prisons are dedicated professionals and do everything in their power to run that institution in the way that protects the american people but contains the security issues therein. with respect to your question, congressman, it is certainly difficult to say. obviously i have the greatest pride and respect for the brave men and women of the pure of prisons indeed. the men and women of the entire department of justice can do anything. so certainly i think that they are up to any task that is assigned to them. and of course we look forward to working with congress to consider these issues should such a change be made. >> in other words, some of your testimony is that bringing people to super max prisons would pose no danger to anyone in the united states. >> well, mr. congressman, i am not in a position to say any prisoner poses no danger ever. we certainly have the security regulations over a host of
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inmates for very significant reasons. i am tremendously proud. this is the work before congress. it has been indicated to the white house. we would work with congress to whatever decisions are made in providing information that could best inform its decisions. >> thank you. i see my time has expired. >> the gentleman's time has expired. now the gentleman from mr. texas for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. under this administration, the number of sanctuary cities has doubled to 340. as a result, many innocent americans have been killed. what are you doing to jurisdictions from claiming sanctuary status? >> i'm sorry. the last part of your question? >> the number of sanctuary jurisdictions has doubled under this administration. what are you doing to discourage
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municipalities from asserting sanctuary status? by doing so, of course, they are endangering americans because people are released and commit murders, crimes, and so forth. that are you doing to discouraging sanctuary status? there is a law on the books that prohibits sanctuary cities. what are you doing to enforce that law? >> i think it was within the purview -- >> no. it was introduced in a law i enacted in 1996. >> i'm sorry, sir. i'm having trouble hearing you. >> what are you doing to enforce that law? >> well, where we have a situation where that situation occurs, we certainly would talk about that jurisdiction. we would reach directly in and
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enforce the criminal laws against the individuals themselves. >> but you are not doing so. give me one example where you have enforced current law that prohibits jurisdictions from claiming sanctuary status. >> well, what i would like to do, sir, is study that issue and provide information to you on that point. >> i would hope that you would have more knowledge about enforcing laws. but i will await your report as to what you have done. a recent ig report found secret service file was accessed and publicly disclosed by secret service managers. this may have violated the privacy act, the computer abuse act, and perhaps amount to obstruction of justice. have you taken any disciplinary action whatsoever against the secret service managers involved with the disclosure of that file? >> congressman, my understanding is that matter is being handled by the inspector general.
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the secret service is part of the department of homeland security. with respect to those specific disciplinary actions, my understanding is their inspector general -- >> some of the laws that may have been violated come under your jurisdiction. are you aware of that or not? >> i'm not able to comment at this time. i will certainly provide information to you. >> you will let the member involved know of any investigation, would you not? >> well, typically we do not comment whether an investigation is open or not. >> i'm not asking publicly on the details. would you alert the member if there was an investigation ongoing? >> you're referring to the member of the secret service? >> the member of congress -- >> member of congress. thank you, sir. we would certainly do everything we could to provide whatever information we can consistent with law enforcement
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obligations. >> okay, thank you. let me ask one more question about the fbi. that is, to your knowledge, has the president or any white house staff or you or any of your staff attempted to influence the fbi's investigation of former secretary clinton? >> no, sir. >> do you have any idea when that investigation will be completed? >> well, i'm not able to comment on the status of that matter. we typically do not comment. also, it's impossible to predict when any matter will be concluded. >> i'm not asking for a comment on the contents of the investigation, just an idea when it might be finished. or have you heard when it might be finished? >> sir, again, i'm not able to comment on the timing of the conclusion of any matter. >> thank you. >> thank you, sir. >> recognize the gentle woman from california for five minutes. >> thank you, attorney general.
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it's a pleasure to have you here. and i look forward to working with you not only today but in the months ahead. as you likely know, i am on the immigration subcommittee and i follow closely what your department is doing in that arena. our predecessor, attorney general holder, testified in 2013 before the senate. and this is a direct quote. it is inexcusable that young kids 6, 7-year-olds, 14-year-olds have immigration decisions made on their behalf against them and they're not represented by counsel. now, in july of this year, the american immigration counsel and several other organizations filed a class action lawsuit in district court in the western district of washington challenging the validity of removal proceedings for children without appointed counsel.
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and their argument was that an 8-year-old couldn't receive a full and fair hearing in the immigration court without representation. as you know, i'm sure the administration has made efforts to advise counsel to small children by funding nonprofit groups. but the assistant attorney general who argued i think mr. leon fresco argued contrary to that in the district court. i'm wondering if the department's position has changed since mr. holder left the department. and whether you think it could mean due process to have an 8-year-old who speaks only process appear in immigration court without a lawyer and be able to argue the nuances of immigration law and asylum. do you think that meets due process requirements? >> thank you, congressman.
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on the issue, of course i would have to review those bleedings to understand the specific context and whether or not there was an appropriations issue involved. >> fair enough. what do you think about the due process issue? >> and, again, thank you for that issue. because it is an important one. as you noted, certainly it's the department's position that as a general matter, all who appear before tribunals, whether courts, administrative bodies, tend to have a more efficient process and ferrer process if they are represented counsel. we have statutes and laws with adults, criminal matters and the like. for those children, also it would certainly seem to increase efficiency of the entire process to have counsel. as you noted, i believe through a grant process we have supported nonprofit or ngo organizations that provided counsel there for those children. >> so you are not willing to say
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it doesn't meet due process requirements at this point? >> what i would like to do is look at the procedures in place before a made a constitutional decision about due process. but i certainly do agree that it is an area of certain and as a matter matter we support counsel in proceedings for litigants, particularly children. >> let me ask you this. the department of homeland security office of inspector general has done an analysis. we have many people from central america in particular who are seeking asylum. and what he reports, there is a review called operation streamline that founded the department of justice, has prosecuted asylum seekers for illegal entry before their asylum case is heard. it seems to me, not only does that violate the requirements of international law but it doesn't seem like an efficient use of
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resources if someone gains asylum under the law. their prosecution would not be very pertinent. i'm wondering have you reviewed that ig's report yet? >> i have not reviewed that specific ig's report. what i can tell you is that the prosecution and apprehension of individuals at the border is one to which the -- not just the department but the specific u.s. attorneys in those border states develop significant time and attention. and steps are taken at the initial level to try and ensure those who are seeking asylum are handled appropriately. and those who are coming in for other intents and purposes are handled through the immigration law system, often the criminal law system. >> can i ask you whether you would please take a look at that report and make sure we're actually using our resources in a sensible way relative to a is
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sigh hru asylum seekers? >> certainly. >> we have had a class action complaint that is now moot because the individuals who filed the complaint have been released from detention. their mothers are being held in prison with their children in carnes. and they had a demonstration. in response, they were put in solitary confinement with their children. their argument was they have free speech rights. here's my question. do you think immigrants in detention are entitled to constitutional rights of due process and the first amendment and the like? >> well, i certainly think when it comes to the conditions in a detention centers, we need to do all we can to ensure that treatment is fair, humane, and cognizant of the individual rights of all of those who come through the systems. i think we have recognized
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certain rights for those within our borders, certain rights for citizens. and in varying depress with respect to the institution. but borrowing that, or even taking that into consideration, i believe that our detention centers should be run efficient, fairly and humanely. >> i see my time has expired. mr. chairman, thank you for allowing me to go a little bit over. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from california for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, general lynch. as you may recall, a woman working for the irs named lois learner was held in cop tempt by the oversight and government reform committee and the "full house" and referred to the department of justice under your predecessor. do you recall that? >> sir, i'm aware of the reports of that. thank you, sir. >> speaking of those reports, the committee reviewed more than a million documents, did approximately 50 interviews and
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produced a report. are you familiar? have you read that report? >> i have not had occasion to read the committee's report, sir. >> the sentence finance committee released a bipartisan report finding that the irs found abused applicants. >> i have not had occasion to read a that report, congressman. >> well, the gentleman sitting behind you signed on your behalf an eight-page report about how nothing went wrong legally at the irs. are you familiar with the letter to congress? >> yes. i'm familiar with the letter that the department sent to congress on this matter, sir. >> you didn't just indicate in fact, that no laws were broken. you indicated that it was just mismanagement and that you found no laws broken. isn't a that correct? >> actually, congressman, i believe our review found that the management of the process by which tax exempt applications
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were handled at the irs was characterized by mismanagement and in efficiency in numerous circumstances. >> right. so you found there was an administrative problem, not a legal problem. add ma'am general, are you familiar with two u.s. usc 194? >> i'm sorry, sir. i'll refresh your memory. it states that it shall be the duty of relevant u.s. attorney to bring the matter before the grand jury. in the case of the referral of lois learner, for contempt, the u.s. attorney failed to comply with that law under your predecessor. are you willing to comply with that law? are you willing to have the current u.s. attorney comply with 2 usc 194, which very clearly says shall have the
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duty. not may. not can make an independent decision about whether or not that individual has done wrong or should be held in contempt. will you comply with 2 usc 194 and instruct your u.s. attorney to bring that contempt before congress? >> congressman -- >> before the grand jury. >> congressman, i believe that matter has been reviewed by the u.s. attorney and a prosecutorial decision was made. >> again, 2 usc 194 states, that it shall be the duty of the relevant u.s. attorney to bring before the grand jury. the u.s. attorney did not do so. is it your opinion that shall do in a law passed by both houses of the congress and signed by the president is a discretion? >> congressman, i believe the matter was reviewed by the former -- >> no, ma'am. i'm asking you for a decision. when something says that you or your employees shall do something, do you believe that is discretion? >> sir, as i indicated, that in
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the exertion of prosecutorial discretion the matter was handled and resolved. >> okay. well, we simply disagree on what the meaning of" shall" is. in your purposes, shall and may in the thesaurus are synonyms. i'm not trying to be argument active. but you are telling me shall has discretion. what part of discretion is shall do. shall is you will do, isn't it? >> congressman, in the exercise of prosecutorial decision, that decision was made. >> so if you don't like the law, you think you have discretion when it says shall is what you're testifying to today. my question to you is during your predecessor, the committee on oversight and others asked for a woman working for you, ms.
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bozerman. at that time the department of justice said she would not be made available because it was an ongoing investigation. since you have miss missed that investigation, are you going to make her available for a trance described interview. >> we seek to provide the information that will help you in your oversight duties. >> mr. conyers is still sitting here today. mr. conyers very bravely took on the bush administration where relevant u.s. attorneys and case law effectively now that is in fact, if a committee of congress wants somebody, it is not a discretion to say no. in the case of harriet miers, that was pretty well adjudicated. and mr. conyers as chair made it clear that congress has right to have someone. again, i will ask you finally, previously, the reason is that you would not make a line
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attorney available. but ms. bozerman was part of an ongoing investigation. since that investigation is done, are you saying today that you refuse to have her available under any conditions? >> i'm saying that i am being consistent to the policy of the department of justice. >> i'm not asking a policy question. i'm asking about one individual. there is no on going investigation. they would like to talk about a past investigation. if she is requested, will you make sure available? >> congressman, as i indicated, we provide information to the committee and we seek to do so through a number of means, as we have indicated, we have provided a letter. we are certainly happy to continue with our offering of a briefing to the full committee on this matter. with respect to line attorneys of any investigation, it is not the policy of the department of justice to have the line attorneys testify because they do their work independently and focusing solely on the facts in the law. and we do not want them having to do with the issue of a political review of their work. they are focused solely on the
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facts and the law and they follow the evidence where it leads. as i have indicated with respect to the letter, and as i believe the previous deputy attorney general indicated, in this matter we are happy to provide information to this committee. and i believe we have offered a briefing to the committee as well. we certainly do stand my that offer. >> mr. chairman, i appreciate the indulgence for her answer as in sufficient as it was. >> the chair thanks the gentleman and recognizes ms. jackson lee. >> general lynch, thank you so much for your service. and might i as well thank your staff. you have always been responsive to me and in particular to members of this committee as we have tried to work towards justice for the people of the united states. a moment i just -- as i begin my questioning, want to say to you. i apologize. going to be pointed questions. if i can get yes or no, work on
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it, it will be helpful as i can get lieu them. as i do so, let me offer to the people of france again our deepest sympathy. this committee in particular is well aware of the impact of terrorism. our subcommittee on crime is a subcompete that is crime, terrorism and homeland security. i offer to the people of france and certainly we stand united as the justice department, through the president of the united states, have already been working. to that point i have a headline that says u.s. justice department working with french authorities after attacks, which is a good thing. and i say this because it has been a massive race by various states to make pronouncements of blocking syrian refugees, people seeking asylum. and i understand the fear. i hope we do not operate under fear. my question is, your confidence in procedures. and i would suggest an inter
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agency task or force. i hope we have a task force either out of this committee on paris or either -- i know there is one recommended by the majority. it would be helpful to the administration. do you feel comfortable as a partner to this process of being able to discern who amongst those suffering people would be. do you perceive your processes to be assured and sure. >> thank you, congressman. i look forward to continuing this dialogue with you on this important point. we have robust screening measures in place. not just data bases but individual interviews, biometric data. we have information from refugees from all employees. our first protection is the safety of the american people
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and carrying out the compassionate nature also of the american people. >> and you feel comfortable if a terminology was used that you certify that you could be confident on those that you processed, that you would use every measure to certify their nonspent to do harm in this country? >> certainly we would use every measure to ensure those who were allowed into the country would not pose a threat to the american citizens. >> i look forward to working with you. let me move on to law enforcement and emphasize obviously they become more importain these times. we thank them for their service. your testimony earlier said we are better when they are better. we enforced the law enforce werement integrity act which includes a provision on data collection. but it also includes some provisions accreditation. the national association of
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police chiefs always supported. what do you think the importance of having departments suggest themselves for accreditation determining best practices and helping them as well as the american public. >> in my discussions with law enforcement across the country, i have found them eager for assistance in sharing best practices. i have also found them eager for recognition of their professionalism and accreditation is one way to do that. i think there are a number of ways to do that. we in the department are working with a number of the police organizations to try and develop consistent and data collections. we rely on their expertation for guiding those standards. we look to start with that same process to move towards accreditation also. i found that law enforcement frankly is focused on professionalism and focused on spreading the best practices as best they can. >> let me do this so my chairman
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will not gavel me. let me quickly raise three points. sentencing are he form and the value of reducing mass incarceration. legislation that will reduce the treatment of juveniles and put it in a positive light. i would like you to make an overall comment on that. and then the idea of no fly for foreign terrorists. meaning those who have gone to the fight being particularly discerned before coming back to the united states. if i could get that. and let me close on these three points if i could please, which are very important. i know i'm leaving out important points that i wanted to make. the voting rights, you already had a question on that. but isn't it more efficient on a preclearance approach such that it might be more helpful for us to reinstate the clearance because it will be more efficient? and i'm going to give you these
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three cases, if i could meet with your staff on them are really a blatant miss character of justice. sandra case. robby tolin. it indicated he had been mistreated. he lived and was shot by an officer on his driveway. and nonviolent person in the state prison of texas with a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense, first offense. it is almost unbelievable. so i would like you to just answer the questions i gave you. these ones about the cases i would like to meet as soon as possible with your staff on these issues. >> i look forward to continue to go work with you on those important issues. certainly with respect to voting rights, the preclearance remedy is one we found 23409 just to be effective but efficient. we felt it was a way in which to engage with jurisdictions as they contemplated changes to
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their laws and prevent them from going down on a road that would have disenfranchised their citizens. certainly we felt it was efficient and much less costly than litigation. it is part of the voting rights act. we work to restore the preclearance remedy. >> i said juvenile justice, clemency, and -- i'm sorry. juvenile justice. i asked you about juvenile justice, prison reform and sentencing for mass incarceration, the value of that. >> the time has expired but the witness can answer the question. >> we feel it is a vital measure that recognizes that while we put measures in place several years ago designed to protect the american people, as we look back on those measures we see
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the collateral consequences it did not just to citizens but community. we are able to evaluate with the passage of time whether or not the lengthy sentences were the most effective way to deal with the offenders they tended to sweep up. so certainly as part of an overall review of our criminal justice system to make sure it is always as efficient and fair as possible, sentencing reform has an important role to play in that and the department is supportive not just of the committee's efforts but congress's efforts in that regard. >> and we will look forward to meeting with your staff this week that i mentioned shaog tin sharonda jones. >> thank you. >> thank you for being here today. i know you know well that one of the parts of the mission of the u.s. department of justice. i have a couple of news
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articles. i know we don't treat them for the truth of what's always in them. but we have to pay attention to them. one of them was fox news that talked about isis having certain terror cells in 15 states and targeting those states. and then one where we are told by cbs news national security correspondent was reporting that the pentagon was notifying various soldiers who had appeared on lists and neighborhoods and cities that had been targeted by isis throughout virginia. and were actually trying to get the police to increase patrols in these particular neighborhoods of these cities. and my question to you is, would you not conclude that it would be reasonable to conclude that if terrorists were graduate from guantanamo bay to a particular city in the united states that it would be reasonable to exact that could increase the likelihood that one of those cities could be placed on one of
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these lists be it from eyisis leadership. >> i'm not able to speculate on what a detainee -- >> let me correct that. you apparently didn't understand my question. i'm not talking about what the detainee would do. i'm talking about if you brought terrorists from guantanamo bay and located them in a particular city in the united states, would it not be reasonable to conclude that that might enhance the likelihood that that city could be place on one of these targeted lists? >> with respect to the lists that you never to, i'm not aware of the source of the -- >> i'm not asking that. you know there are lists that are around. do you not -- are you disputing that you have no knowledge there are any of these allegations of lists around the country today? >> well, congressman, with respect to the matters that you have mentioned regarding the fox news report, as i indicated, i'm
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not aware of the -- >> you're not aware of any lists in the united states today that target particular cities or states, isis or someone claiming to be representative of isis? >> as i indicated with respect to the first article that you mentioned -- >> no. i'm talking about any of the lists. you're not aware of any of these lists. >> i thought you mentioned two. >> my question for you, wouldn't it be reasonable to conclude when you brought terrorists from guantanamo bay and located them in a city it could very well enhance that city's being on one of these targeted lists? yes or no? that's a pretty easy question. if you disagree with that, you can say no. if you agree with it, yes. >> congressman, i thought you were referring to the service members who were on -- >> i'm making it clear. any list that targets a city or state in the united states, if you bring terrorists from guantanamo bay, wouldn't it be reasonable to conclude that that can enhance that city's ability
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to be on one of the lists. >> i think there are any number of factors. >> would you not agree that would be a factor that would enhance that ability. >> i think there are any number of factors. >> but you would disagree that would be one of those many number of factors. >> congressman, i don't agree or disagree. >> as the attorney general of the united states, you don't have an opinion whether or not bringing terrorists from guantanamo bay, locating them in a city would put that city on a hit list for isis? you to the floor an opinion on that? >> congressman, there are any number of factors. >> you wouldn't answer the question. madam attorney general, i think that's atrocious that you don't even have an opinion of that. let me ask you then then in the limited time i have if you will answer this question. you talk about data. we have certain events in ferguson, baltimore, that you will have an event. that will escalate into violence. you talked about the police.
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have you attempted to gather any information about outside organizations that may come from outside the communities and also escalate that violence. >> we do gather information on individuals -- >> do you have a report you can provide to this committee of your investigation and what that has concluded with a list of those organizations in. >> congressman, we do not generate a report. what i was indicating was in our review if a matter is referred to us, if there was a violent issue -- >> i'm not talking about whether it's a crime. do you have any information -- you talked about police escalating the violence. do you have any information that these outside groups may be coming in and also escalating that violence. >> congressman, the reports that we do would not focus solely on one factor. >> so you haven't focused at all on outside groups that could escalate the violence. >> it would come under our
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review. >> but you haven't done it. >> we don't have a report on that for you, sir. >> have you deny any investigation. >> sir, if a matter is brought to our information, it would. >> i yield back without getting a single answer to a single question we posed. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from tennessee, mr. cohen, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. i'm going to be like ms. lee and ask you a lot of questions. >> i'm sorry, sir. >> i have a lot of questions. in july, a young man named darius stewart was shot and killed by memphis police. he was a passenger in a motor vehicle stopped for a traffic citation. he was asked to get out of the car. they looked at him, put him in the car. he was shot and killed. the d.a. asked the grand jury to indict voluntary manslaughter. the grand jury chose not to. how that was presented, who knows. obviously a ham sandwich could
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have presented. i asked the department of justice to look into it. your first response is you monditored the case. now i would like to ask the department of justice to see if civil rights violations may have occurred. >> i would like to have my staff reach out to you and get that information, sir. >> are you familiar with the case? >> we have a number of similar matters under review. >> i hope you will come familiar. many feel it was a miss character to justice equal to the others in the united states. for some reason it hasn't risen to the radar of the united states attorney general and we hope that it will. the dba took a 2015 national drug assessment summary. and in that particular summary or study, most agents said mayor want a that was like 5% total to
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society and meth and heroin were the most serious drugs challenging them and the american people. do you agree that we should spend more time, our law enforcement, working against meth, heroin and opiates and not marijua marijuana? >> with respect to our narcotics laws, what we try to do at the department of justice and dea is focus on a specific region and devote resources to that. we currently have a crisis regarding heroin and opiate abuse in the country. some have been consumed by that particular problem. there are some communities that still have problems with methamphetamine. so there might be a different focus. >> marijuana is not what cities have people needing marijuana and gnawing off 7-elevens. they are doing that for meth and hair question, right?
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>> certainly we have seen violence with meth, heroin, with prescription drugs as well. the type of violence associated with the marijuana trade typically occurs at the dealer level, import level. and i have seen cases where there has been significant violence at that level. >> there is. just like prohibition, we made it illegal. it is not the marijuana and the need to have it on the street level basis where people need to commit violence to buy the drug. we did the same mistake with marijuana that we did in the '20s with alcohol. the public demanded it. they got rich and used guns to protect their properties. do you agree marijuana should not be in the schedule one, same as lsd. >> that is determined based on whether or not there is another use for the product. i think there would be to have studies by the fda to determine
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whether or not a scheduling schedule is necessary. >> don't you have to change the scheduling from one to get the studies? one of my constituents died waiting for the opportunity for charlotte's web. a lot of people would like to get canniboids. it does wonders for multiple sclerosis or cancer patients to give them an appetite don't you agree medical mayor want is serious and should be looked at as an aid to people in our society to get through medical problems and not considered a joke. >> certainly medical marijuana is certainly different from the criminal use of mayor want a that. the department supports the fda studies in the use of the oils or the substance within marijuana. >> i hate to cut you off. i hope you would look into initiating what you can taking it off schedule one. it is crazy to have it with lsd and heroin. it should not be there.
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it should be studied. rifra has been used to allow groups to discriminate against lgbt people. it has been based on 2007 doj office of legal counsel office that said it could grant exemptions to federal programs. will you commit today to instruct the office of legal counsel to review and reconsider the 2007 olc legal opinion that is being used today to justify tax payer funded discrimination counter to the pre's executive order? >> i would like to look into that issue. if i could have my staff reach out to you and get more information on that, i would appreciate that. >> and holdovers from the bush team, there was a holdover from bush for six years. that's why the president got hardly any recommendations for computations. can we study prison records and facilitate the expeditious
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sending expeditiously to the president of the thousands of people whose sentences to be commuted. it isn't serving the american people by having them be in prison. >> the department has in fact, taken a significant look at the staffing and resource needs of the office of the pardon attorney and sought to provide additional resources so that every application that comes through, whether it be for pardon or clemency can be considered quickly and efficiently. >> but it hasn't done that. let me remind you what dr. king said. justice delayed is justice denied. every single person serving a day in prison who will get a recommendation is having their justice delayed and denied. >> on that note, the gentleman's time has expired. we will recognize the gentleman from ohio, mr. jordan. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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on february 2nd, 2014, chief counsel to irs commissioner john costigan learned that ms. lois learner's hard drive had crashed and they didn't have all of her e-mails. l echllerner's hard drive had crashed. they didn't have all her e-mails. in the four-month time period, the commissioner did not disclose the fact that they knew her hard drive had crashed. one month later, in march of 2014, the irs destroys for her 22 backup ties. just so you understand the fact pattern, they know on february 2nd, her hard drive has crashed, they don't have her e-mails, they destroy 422 backup tapes with three preservation orders
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in place. in fact one of them came from the justice department. ten months before that, you had told them, hey, preserve all the documents, preserve all the e-mails, we've got an investigation going on. so three preservation orders and two subpoenas. now, that sure looks like the commissioner and the internal revenue service concealed information and destroyed information. but just last month you guys send us a letter telling us you're not going to prosecute anyone in the irs targeting scandal. you say, our investigation revealed no evidence to deliberately conceal or destroy information. here's what i can't figure out. they learn on february 2nd, 2014, that lois lerner's hard drive had crashed and they don't have her e-mails, then they destroy the backup tapes. if that's not evidence of deliberating concealing and destroying information, what is
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it? >> thank you, congressman. with respect to the matter that you've raised, as we set forth in our letter, we did review the issues surrounding ms. lernor's e-mails and the backup tapes. as with every criminal investigation, we're looking for evidence of criminal intent and we're looking for evidence of the specific reasons for why the actions that you note -- >> how many times do you have directed evidence of intent in any other type of fraud investigation? what were you looking for? an e-mail where the commissioner sends an e-mail to the guys in the tape room and says, destroy the tapes? you had preservation orders, one of which came from the justice department. 30 days after that, they destroy 422 backup tapes. that's not enough to take it to a grand jury? >> certainly it was a matter under review, congressman. we've outlined in our letter the findings of the review. >> if it wasn't a deliberate intent to destroy and conceal, what was it? >> congressman, as we outlined
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in our letter -- >> here's what you said in your letter. justice department's investigation uncovered substantial evidence of mismanagement and poor judgment. what i just described, was that evidence of mismanagement by the commissioner? >> congressman, i'm not going to attribute it to just one individual because i believe -- >> was it evidence of poor judgment when the commissioner's chief counsel learned that ms. lerner's hard drive are crashed and waits to tell us? >> i can't speak to what was in his mind when he testified before you. the information that we provided to this committee outlining the conclusions drawn. >> here's what the american people want to know. what was it going to take before you take this to a grand jury? would he have had to wait five months before he told us, eight months before he told us? would they have had to destroy
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450 backup tapes? what was it going to take before you take this to a grand jury, with three preservation orders in place, they have knowledge that there's problems with the hard drive, and they destroy the backup tapes? if that fact pattern doesn't warranty going to a grand jury and prosecuting, tell me what would. >> certainly, congressman, that fact pattern was a part of the investigation, as were a number of other facts. we outlined in our letter not only the investigative steps that were taken but the conclusions drawn. >> who were you referring when you said evidence of mismanagement and poor judgment? who? it seems to me the guy to top is responsible. are you saying the commissioner had substantial evidence of mismanagement when he destroyed 422 backup tapes? is that evidence of substantial mismanageme
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mismanagement? >> i would not attribute it to a specific person. >> who would you attribute it to? someone's got to be responsible. you sent a preservation order to the irs in may of 2013. in march of 2014, they destroy 422 backup tapes. if a private citizen gets an audit notice from the irs and ten months later they destroy the evidence, would they be prosecuted? >> it would depend on the evidence of intent. >> yet you guys with that fact pattern wouldn't take it to a grand jury. who mismanaged what? that's the question i want answered. who is responsible? someone has -- is we outlined in our letter -- >> no, you haven't. you said "some." i want to be if it was the guy presiding offer the irs when we destroyed the 422 backup tapes. is he responsible? >> as we indicated in our letter, there was substantial
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mismanagements. and we indicated we would provide this information to the committee. we're also happy to provide a briefing to the committee on other questions you may have about this matter. >> the gentleman's time has expired. the chair would recognize the gentleman from georgia, mr. johnson. >> thank you, mr. chairman. general lynch, i want to commend you and the department on the fact that 70 individuals have been charged since 2013 for conduct related to foreign fighter activity and home-grown violent extremism. general lynch, this committee has previously heard how isil and other terrorist organizations feel potential recruits in publicly accessible association networking sites via internet apps. are these encrypted private
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messaging platforms and also voice over internet apps hampering the ability of the department to quickly ascertain and address threats to national security? and if so, in what ways? >> congressman, thank you for the question. certainly when individuals choose to move from open means of communication to those that are encrypted, it can cause a disruption in our ability to use lawful legal process to intercept those communications and does give us concern about being able to gather the evidence that we need to continue in our ongoing mission for the protection of the american people. >> how so? >> well, with respect to individuals in this country, what we have seen is communications, this is in regard to specific cases, we've seen communications between them and individuals urging them to commit acts of violence, acts of terrorism. and then those individuals dropping from one type of communication to an encrypted method of communication. and we no longer have visibility
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into those discussions. >> when you say no longer have visibility into those discussions, can you break that down and explain exactly what you mean? >> certainly. typically we would, with a lawful court order, go to a communications provider and, focusing specifically on individuals against whom we had probable cause to believe were involved in criminal activity including terrorist activity, obtain the authorization to review their communications in the past as well as on an ongoing bases. when individuals move to an encrypted platform, one that is not accessible by the provider themselves, then we have a situation where we're not able to have our court orders handled in the typically way, that is to say, we're not able to receive that information and ascertain what these individuals are planning, and also, just as importantly, with whom they're planning these actions. and so we rely on other methods
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and means. but that is a loss of an important means, an important law enforcement tool. >> is there any way that the department can overcome the use of encrypted data and voice communications by terrorists who are trying to recruit within the borders of the united states or a terrorist plot taking place between persons inside the united states? take, for example, the terrorist incident in paris this past weekend, where i heard one expert say that he would be shocked if the terrorists were not using encrypted communications, perhaps even during the terrorist events.
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how can the department thwart that kind of activity taking place here on united states soil, given the fact that we have these encrypted communications? >> well, certainly it makes it very challenging. our approach has been to work with the electronic companies, the internet providers on a case-by-case basis and help them find a way or work with them to find a way to allow them to respond to the valid legal process. and certainly we're having conversations with the industry as a whole to make sure that they can in fact comply with legal process and provide us the information that we need. we rely on other means of surveillance, other means of gathering intelligence about those individuals and their associates. but it does cause us the loss of a very valuable source of information. >> okay. with that i will yield back, and thank you for your testimony. >> thank you. >> the gentleman from georgia
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yields back. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from texas. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, attorney general, i appreciate your being here. obviously people are rather sensitive to potential terrorism, especially since isis is known for keeping their word when they make threats, at least as often as they can. and we had a witness sometime back, the fbi director at that time, director mueller. and i was asking him about investigations at the mosque in boston where the sarnievs attended. and he indicated that the fbi had an outreach program with that mosque where they would commune together.
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but they never actually investigated at the mosque whether or not the sarnievs had been radicalized, even after russia gave the fbi a heads up that the older sarniev had been radicalized. they never asked any questions of the people there. and i know i've been through materials with fbi agents that have been cleaned out from the teaching materials at the justice department, and for some ridiculous reason they were classified, so we had to do it in a closed setting. but it appears to me that fbi agents, justice officials, are not even being allowed to be taught what it is that radical islamists believe, not even perhaps that osama bin laden
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indicated that the egyptian martyr muslim brotherhood member qutab wrote milestones that actually helped radicalize him. nobody knew enough to go to the mosque and ask, has sarniev been reading qutab, have you seen him or heard him talking about milestone? it seems like we blinded, as one intelligence official told me, we blinded ourselves of the ability to see our enemy. so i was also surprised, since director mueller was fbi director after al a mchlalamudi arrested based on information britain gave us. but he's doing 23 years for supporting terrorism. he didn't know al alamudi was the one at the bottom of
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starting that mosque. we know that apparently a al alamudi helped in the clinton and bush white house find muslims that al alamudi can be trusted to work in those white houses. i'm just wondering, since we now know that al amudi supported terrorism, we know the sarnievs and others who have been radicalized worshipped at that mosque. has the outreach program been terminated with the al amudi mosque in boston? and has there been any investigation into people that al amudi placed in the clinton and bush white house, now that we know he supported terrorism? he's doing 23 years. do you know of any such investigations? >> mr. congressman, i don't have the information that you're requesting. but certainly what i can say is that you have touched upon the
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issue that all of us in law enforcement deal with as we work not only to protect the american people but to counter violent extremism that does pull in young people like -- >> i appreciate your calling it violent extremism. did you have a degree in islamic studies? >> i'm sorry, sir? >> i really don't know. do you have any degrees in islamic studies? >> no, sir. >> well, there's a guy named al baghdadi who happens to be head of isis, who has a bachelor's, a master's, and a ph.d. in islamic studies from the university of baghdad. he perhaps is a better expert than you and i. and he says isis is islamic. and so i think we should take the word of an expert. it certainly doesn't represent the views of all muslims, thank god, but i would encourage you to take another look at the justice department training materials, take another look at your outreach program, and look
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back and investigate who a al amudi placed in those white houses to see if they're still around. the fbi completely dropped the ball on sarniev and there are concerns among americans that they may be dropping the ball on the syrians as we speak. >> the chair will recognize my friend from puerto rico. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome, general lynch. i would like to address the doj's mission to prevent violent crime. i want to concentrate on the u.s. territory. this is the same topic i raised with general holder each time he appeared before this committee. broadly speaking, when it comes to violent crime, the narrative in puerto rico has been positive lately. in 2011, there were 1,136 murders in puerto rico, over
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three a day, the highest in our history. most of these homicides were related to the drug trade. so i pushed dhs and doj extremely hard to dedicate more personnel and resources to puerto rico. dhs, including the coast guard, icvp, responded to the pressure. doj responded but to a lesser extent than dhs. these enhanced federal efforts have borne fruit. the number of homicides in puerto rico has decreased significantly every year. in 2015 to date, there have been 508 murders. if the current trends continues, there will be half as many homicides in puerto rico this year versus four years ago. that is a remarkable scientific. we should be proud of it. but we're fighting a determined enemy. and the gains we have achieved can be easily reversed unless our efforts are sustained and strengthened. and the fact is, despite recent
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improvements, puerto rico still has a homicide rate far higher than any state. yet my staff and i have found it difficult to obtain answers to basic questions about doj efforts in the territory. so i want a member level briefing on this subject as soon as possible. in the meantime, i have three specific questions for you today. i will ask them all at once and then give you the time to answer them. first, the u.s. attorney's office in puerto rico has a very high criminal caseload. part of the reason is that they are prosecuting a number of cases that in the states would likely be prosecuted in state or local courts as opposed to the federal court. i'm aware that the u.s. attorney's office in puerto rico has entered into an mou with the puerto rico department of
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justice so that state prosecutors can be detailed to work on federal cases. while i support this arrangement, in my time, in the '90s, i did something similar, i'm concerned there are not enough federal prosecutors assigned to puerto rico in light of the caseload. have you looked at this issue, and if not could you look at it and have your staff brief me on the specific findings, again, number of assistant u.s. attorneys in puerto rico. second, as you have stated here today, doj has a comprehensive program called the violence reduction network. they reduce violence in some of our most violent cities. i believe there are cities in puerto rico that are candidates for this program and i urge the doj to select a puerto rico site in 2016. can you receive puerto rico will receive due consideration for inclusion in that or any other
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doj program combined to combat violent crime? finally, the "new york times" just reported or recently reported that in 2014, more guns used to commit crimes in puerto rico were purchased in florida than in puerto rico itself. what is doj doing to rules the number of guns being unlawfully transported from florida and other states to puerto rico and being used to commit crimes in my turf? thank you. >> thank you, congressman. and i am happy indeed to have my staff arrange to provide further information for you on all of these points. i can certainly tell you that we are looking to expand our efforts under that mou, and with respect to specific numbers, i would like to have the opportunity to look into that and provide you with a briefing on that. with respect to the firearms trafficking between the mainland florida and puerto rico, we do have a very strong presence on
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the island of atf, along with, as you know, a host of other agencies, and we are looking at ways to deal with that as well. we're looking at giving puerto rico cities due consideration for the programs coming up. we're also committed even beyond that to working with local authorities in puerto rico as well as the u.s. attorney to deal with the situation there. as you note, the homicide rate is down significantly. but it is still far too high, and that places the residents of puerto rico in an unreasonable and untenable situation, and we feel it is our obligation and responsibility to do all we can to ameliorate that. >> thank you. >> the chair now recognizes the gentleman from arizona, mr. franks. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, attorney general lynch, for being here. general lynch, several videos, as you know, it has been talked
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about quite a bit, have been released that show corporate officers and employees of planned parenthood casually discussing their practice of harvesting little baby parts from the many hundreds of thousands of innocent babies they kill in their clinics across this nation every year. the video reveals some babies are born intact, which i understand is the most desirable state for people in that business, because the little body parts haven't been damaged by the abortion procedure. and because of that incentive, some of these little babies are born alive. i'm wondering, has the department investigated or enforced any cases of born alive children being killed from their abortion survivors? >> congressman, with respect to the issue that you raise, you're asking about born alive? >> born alive abortion survivors. in other words, babies that were victims of abortion but born
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alive, much like the situation with kermit gossnell. there's some legislation on the books that ostensibly protects born live children. has the agency investigated born alive survivors? >> since the relevant statute was passed some time ago, there have been some few cases that dealt with certain issues abo aboabou about -- i believe the statute is the national or began transpla -- organ transplant act. i don't believe they fit the factual scenario you just outlined, but i can provide that information to you. >> let me shift gears. there's legislation here until the congress that's passed the house that would give definitive protection to born alive, i'm not talking about unborn children, i'm talking about born alive babies that have survived
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the abortion process. would you support that legislation and enforce it if it were in statute? >> congressman, i have not seen those drafts. certainly with respect to any draft legislation proposed by this body, the department of justice will review it and provide the relevant input to you for your help and for your use. >> generally, would you support legislation supporting born alive abortion survivors? >> having not seen the drafts, i'm not able to comment. >> just generally. born alive. born alive. >> we would look at whatever proposals you have, congressman. >> all right. well, it's too bad you can't answer a question like that. let me shift gears on you again. is the department of justice investigating planned parenthood based on the footage released and if so what is the status of that investigation, and if not, why not? >> we have received a number of requests for information as well as congressional requests and referrals on this matter.
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because we are still reviewing it, i'm not able to comment on the nature or status of that at this time, sir. >> all right. in light of doj's recent public praise of the southern poverty law center, this is an organization that's implicated in the domestic terrorism conviction of floyd corkens, as you know, who used the southern poverty law center publications to identify and attempt to kill employees of pro-family organizations in dc, it is important for us to know the doj's level of involvement with splc. can you tell us about doj's relationship with the southern poverty law center and its employees' publications and events? can you give us any insight? >> i'm certainly aware of the organization.
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i cannot give you details at this time. i certainly would appreciate the opportunity to have my staff reach outline to yours. -- reach out to yours. >> in all due deference, you haven't answered these questions. the last person who held your position didn't answer them either and promised to respond in writing and didn't do that either. have you personally reviewed any of the videos released by the center for medical progress? if so, was there anything in their videos that you found disturbing? >> congressman, i have not undertaken a review of the videos. i am aware of the news reports about them. as i indicated, all the information received by the department is currently under review so i don't have any further comment about it at this time. >> yes, ma'am. thank you. >> the gentleman yields. the chair will recognize the gentlelady from california. >> attorney general, i want to bring your attention to the cases of chinese-american
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scientis scientists, all of whom, despite their ethnic names, are american citizens. all of them have been profiled, suspected, and treated as spies by our nation's government within the past two years, only to have all charges dropped. and these are only the cases that actually reached national headlines. there could be countless more. two of these individuals, sherry chen and shao shen xi, are here. dr. xi is at temple university. in may of this year, dr. xi and his family were woken up by armed fbi agents in his home, pointing guns at him. in his pajamas he was handcuffed
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and arrested in front of his wife, two young daughters, and neighbors. after months of investigation, after losing his position as chair of the physics department, all of the charges against him were dropped. it turns out the technology that the government thought professor xi was sharing with china wasn't the right technology to begin with. we also have sherry chen, who like dr. xi was wrongfully profiled and suspected of being a spy for china. she was arrested by fbi officers and humiliatingly handcuffed in her office at the national weather service. after months of investigation and having her reputation smeared, all the charges against her were dropped. not only is she suffering from mental and emotional turmoil that this investigation has caused, she is now fighting for her job as a n hydrologist in te
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department of commerce. these individuals were traumatized and their lives nearly ruined. it leads us to question, are all chinese-american scientists suspect because they are chinese americans? so my question to you is, what went wrong in these cases, and how are you addressing this internally, especially with the fbi, to prevent this from happening in the future? >> thank you, congressman. i can state to you unequivocally that the department of justice doesn't focus an investigation on any individual because of their race or national origin. with respect to the specifics that you mentioned, i'm not able to comment on the specifics at this time. >> even if you can't comment on the specifics of the cases, i will follow up with you personally on the details of these cases. there is no question we must fight against espionage and threats to american innovation, but we must not ensnare citizens
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who make this nation great or violate due process or equality under the law. this is especially true in light of the horrendous paris attacks which senselessly took over 120 lives in an act of terror. we must not impinge against fundamental rights. we have seen what happens when we compromise our fundamental values. not too long ago, 120,000 people of japanese ancestry were rounded up and incarcerated during world war ii, accused of having spies amongst them. their citizenship meant nothing. in the eyes of the government, all of them were potential spies and enemies. over 60 years later, not a single case of espionage has ever been proven. today, when we profile
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chinese-american scientists in this matter or any american on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity, or country of origin, our government is telling our own citizens or communities that they are un-american and that it's okay to fear or even hate them. when this happens, in my opinion we have failed as a government. i yield back. >> the gentlelady yields back. the chair will now recognize the former united states attorney from pennsylvania. >> thank you, chairman. good afternoon, general, welcome. >> good afternoon. >> i'm going to talk briefly about drug diversion. it's not a question, really. it has been a priority of mine to encourage the dea to collaborate with companies in the pharmaceutical supply chain to address prescription drug abuse. in the past, dea officials used ambiguities in the law to treat businesses like suspected
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criminals. with the support of this committee, the house passed my legislation to clear up the relevant provisions of the controlled substance act. that bill is now pending in the senate and it appears likely to be enacted. the department's response to my recent questions on the subject that the department, quote, recently made some important changes that demonstrate its commitment to work more closely with the drug supply chain and registrants is very encouraging to me. i will closely keep an eye on this. i'm optimistic that progress is being made and i thank you for pursuing that. >> thank you, sir. >> i'm going to switch gears now to the bureau of prisons and oversight. i do have some questions pursuant. my district has three high security federal penitentiaries. i'm in the pennsylvania 10th
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district, canaan, louisburg, and allentown. one man was established 129 times at a prison in canaan. a program was put into place to provide officers with pepper spray. will you promise and give your word to me that you will support this program and make it permanent to all the personnel? >> congressman, i'm aware of the death that you mentioned as well as the deaths of several of our other brave men and women in correction correctional facilities. i do support efforts to make
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sure they have all the tools they need to have a safe working environment. >> do you believe that pepper spray is one of these protection devices that would help officers but yet not have a weapon that the inmates could take? >> i certainly think pepper spray is a viable option. i would like to see the results of the pilot study. i would like to make sure we include every possible option for protecting our officers. >> thank you. many of our federal prisons are understaffed, significantly below their authorized levels. i constantly check on this. in some cases, counselors, not corrections officers, fill in to guard inmates. counsel counselors. would you fully staff
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corrections officers' positions with trained officers? >> congressman, i can tell you that certainly not only is the safety and security of correctional officers a priority of mine, but ensuring that they have the appropriate staffing is a priority of mine. it has certainly been a challenge fror us from a budgetary perceptibudget ary perspective. we're going to ensure that correctional facilities are fully staffed. >> mandatory donation provisions in doj settlements. last week your staff advised that they did not realize that we wanted internal documents. we were very, very clear, both via letter and in live
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questioning, that we were specifically seeking internal documents. there always seemed to be some jockeying between congress and this administration on over the matters. this is unacceptable. it's a continual problem. when will we receive the internal documents we requested almost exactly a year ago? >> congressman, to the extent that we receive requests for internal deliberative documents that typically we do not disclose, that may have been the reason for that. we try and work with either staff or the entire committee to provide the information that you need to carry out your oversight function consistent with our law enforcement and privilege objections. we look forward to working with you to do that. >> i just home we do not have to continue as we have in the past, splitting hairs over a particular word. thank you. i yield back.
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>> the gentleman yields back. the chair will now recognize the gentleman from florida, mr. deutsche. >> thank you, mr. chairman. attorney general lynch, thanks so much for joining us. especially in light of the horrific attacks in paris, i know the department of justice is doing everything it can to help those in paris to do their part to bring the perpetrators of the heinous acts in paris to justice. as we mourn with paris, it's moments like these where we pull our own loved ones closer. we trust that the administration, including the justice department and law enforcement and our intelligence community, and the men and women who serve our country in uniform, are doing all they can to keep our people safe from the threat of terrorism, home-grown and abroad. we're grateful for that. we do face daily threats of another kind here at home, however. i want to talk to you about the daily gun violence that claims
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nearly one american's life in every hour of every day and over 32,000 per year. every day dangerous persons in the united states buy guns without completing any background check at all. and whether it's dylann roof, whose approval went through, who wound up murdering nine americans at worship in charleston, or whether it's gang members in chicago, where more than 400 people have been killed by gun violence this year. i've served on the house judiciary committee, and in that time we haven't had a hearing on gun violence, not on this committee, not after tucson, not after aurora, not after newtown, not after roseburg. as the chairman said just today, again, that there's no reason to have a hearing, all we need to do is simply enforce the existing laws, we're told that
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everything will get better. before going on to my specific question for you, i'm sure you would acknowledge that it was i think helpful to hear the chairman say earlier that sometimes the national criminal background check doesn't have all the information that it needs. i would point out that after the virginia tech massacre, where that gunman's mental health record wasn't accessible, the court had declared him a danger to himself, he should never have been allowed to purchase a gun, congress acted and passed legislation, signed by president bush, that authorized over a billion dollars to states and territories to improve recordkeeping and reporting to the national background check system. congress, however, has only allocated about 11% of that money. i would ask the chairman, consistent with his views that there are problems with the existing law, that we work together to fund, to allocate
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the funds so that all the information gets to the background check system so it can work to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. that doesn't require a new law. it simply requires making sure we allocate the money, that we spend the money that congress has authorized over the past several years. now, i do want to ask you, madam attorney general, about steps that can be taken. as you know, the gun lobbyists made it nearly impossible for the federal government to enforce our existing gun laws. the federal government is barred from keeping records from gun sales over 24 hours, barred from electronically managing trace data, information about guns recovered at crime scenes and who sold them. investigations into corrupt gun dealers take months instead of minutes. and it's barred from seeking
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assistance from other agencies like the fbi and the dea. so i reject the assertion that there's no room for improvement. clearly there is. i'll continue to push for sensible gun safety measures like preventing suspects on our terrorist watch list from buying guns. but general lynch, there may be real ways to strengthen background checks through executive action that could save lives. under current law, only people in the business of selling firearms have to conduct background checks. people who aren't in the business of selling firearms don't have to. but some of these people who technically aren't sellers sell hundreds of guns a year, online or out of car trunks. couldn has your office considered a threshold to define who would be
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technically engaged in the business? >> congressman, with respect to the serious issue of gun violence, the department is certainly pursuing all of our enforcement actions that we do have under existing law. and certainly it would always be useful to have additional resources for our atf to allow them to fully investigate everything that we need and that comes under our purview. with respect to the question that you've raised as to a statutory definition, i believe the statute is going to define that at this time. but certainly the department of justice and atf are committed to rigorous enforcement of that statute. >> to the extent that there is an opportunity for executive action that can be taken to help define something that is undefined in statute, is that something that you're looking at? or let me just simply, since i'm out of time, encourage you to take a hard look at that, because that would be a meaningful step that could help,
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again, ensure that the background checks that should be completed, even without additional legislation, are in fact completed. i hope you'll consider that seriously. i'll yield back, mr. chairman. >> the chair will now recognize himself. madam attorney general, i enjoyed visiting you with recently and i want to thank you for the recent trip to south carolina which was very well-received. there are three areas i want to cover with you. first would be the letter to congress recently. i'm going to to paraphrase one of the paragraphs but it's a pretty close paraphrase. the irs mishandled tax exempt applications in a manner that disproportionately impacted conservative groups. i read that to mean that he found a discriminatory effect. in other words, there were similarly situated people but a disparate impact on conservative groups. that's the only way, i think, to read the paragraph in the
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letter. he then rowrote, it left the appearance that the irs's conduct was motivated by political, discriminator to, corrupt, or other inappropriate mo motives. so he said the motive was mismanagement as opposed to a crime. and that got me thinking, if my sheriff stopped only red cars for speeding, at what point is it not mismanagement but it actually is circumstantial evidence of intent? >> well, with respect to the actions that you referred to, congressman, you certainly are accurate when you indicate that our letter noted that the groups that had complained were treated differently from other groups, and they were also treated in a way that did not advance their applications. they were treated badly. so one can understand their
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concerns and the issues that they raised. with respect to the investigation, as we outlined in our letter, under the relevant statutes that we were reviewing, we needed to find evidence of criminal intent. that intent was not there. with respect to the example that you raise, certainly there are certain statutes that takes into effect a discriminatory impact. but again, even in our civil rights laws, if one had a discriminatory impact, you would not necessarily be able to prove a discriminatory intent. >> it's really hard to prove intent. really hard. which is why usually you use circumstantial evidence. and if female voters were required to show two forms of i.d. but male voters were only required to show one, how many voters would have to pass through the prompter before you would say, that's circumstantial evidence of an intent to discriminate? i mean, never do you have direct
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evidence of intent. it's really hard to prove intent, which is why we typically use circumstantial evidence. and i noted in mr. catsic's letter, he didn't say there was insufficient evidence. he said there was no evidence. would you agree with me that there's a very big difference between saying insufficient evidence and absolutely no evidence, which is what he wrote? he found no evidence of any intent to discriminate, despite the fact that there's a discriminatory effect. >> i think the letter does speaks for itself in that regard. what i would say is that, congressman, as a general matter, in how we handle our criminal investigations, we do look for evidence of intent. and it comes in a number of ways. some circumstantial, some direct. every case is different. and every investigation, as in this investigation, we gather all the evidence. we gather all the facts.
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and we apply the law to the facts and let that determine the answer. >> i'm with you, madam attorney general. you can see the discriminatory effect. that's half of what you have to prove, and it's already there, you concede that. you have e-mails from ms. lerner that we have a plan but we have to be cautious, it's not per se a political project. i think a jury would find that an interesting e-mail. she worried mightily that republican control of the senate might be tantamount to a republican president. that might be circumstantial evidence of a political motivation. she referred to the tea party as dangerous. how many pieces of circumstantial evidence, keeping in mind the author of the letter didn't say "insufficient." i could have lived with it if you had said, look, our prosecutors just couldn't make the case. it's a close call, we can't make the case. that's not what he said.
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he said there is no evidence of i just cited three e-mails that i think would be evidence of some intent. don't you think? >> congressman, as i said, i think the letter in its full entirety speaks for itself and does outline not only all of the issues that you raise but the host of other things that were reviewed and looked at in the course of the investigation and does explain the conclusions to which the department came. with respect to the referral, the issue was whether or not there was evidence of a criminal intent, that is to say, did one act on certain views, was that the reason for the actions. and as we've noted in our letter and we've offered in further briefings with you, we did not find investigation of that through the millions of pages of documents and witnesses that were interviewed. >> i would love to take you up on that, a private briefing, because as i read her e-mails, even some of the mediocre
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prosecutors on this panel i think could get to a jury given the evidence that they have. i want to touch on two other issues, and then -- because there's a trend of going over, i would invite you at some point, and this is going to be a bipartisan comment, because this goes back to 2004, and 2004, there was a republican administration. if you look at the firearms prosecutions from 2004 to 2012, you're going to be shocked at how few prosecutions there were, not for 924-c, not for firearms offences that happen during a crime of violence, but i mean, lying and buying, selling a gun to somebody who has been adjudicated mentally ill, somebody who's been committed. there were 22 guilty adjudications over the course of nine years for people possessing
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firearms who were users or addicts of drugs. 22 in nine years. so when i hear my friend from florida talk about the need for more gun laws, yes, we're going to say, how are you doing with the ones you currently have. and i would invite your attention to this chart, which came from former attorney general holder who provided it to us. i think you'll be shocked at how few -- and i get there's not much jury appeal. trust me, i get that it's a hard to go before a jury in a lying and buying case. i think we would all agree, the objective is to prevent violent crime, not to do a really good job prosecuting it afterward, but to keep it from happening in the first place. my last point is simply this. you have been asked repeatedly this morning to comment on ongoing investigations.
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and you always give the same answer. and it's the exact same answer that marino gave me in the back, a former u.s. attorney, and the exact same answer that mr. radcliffe gave me, who is a former u.s. attorney, which is that you cannot confirm or deny the existence of an ongoing investigation, and if we happen to know about one, you're not going to comment on it. that's exactly what you should say. i'm just wondering why the president didn't get that memo. and you may in your well of souls believe it doesn't impact mr. comey or you, and it may not. but i promise you, it impacts the perception of my fellow citizens when the person responsible for executing the laws in this country prejudges the outcome of investigations. i promise you it impacts the perception. that's equally dangerous. with that i would recognize the gentleman from illinois, mr.
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gutierrez. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. welcome, attorney general. >> thank you, sir. >> i posed the same question to the fbi director. i would your advice. i would like to work with you. in my hometown of chicago, there are 40, 50 shootings on any given weekend. that's a whole classroom of children. and it's unacceptable. and we need more federal action, i think, because whatever we do in chicago, according to a city report from the mayor's office and the chicago police department, 60% of the guns are coming from wisconsin, indiana, and mississippi, all states that have weaker gun laws than the city of chicago does. we know this thanks to the chicago police department's trace data, meaning that the chicago police department traces every single gun to determine where it was originally sold and how it may have entered the illegal market. so given that the majority party
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in congress refuses to take up, despite widespread and robust support, for gun control legislation, a couple of questions. what's your advice to me as an individual member of congress who supports gun control and how can i help curb gun violence in chicago. and second, will the justice department encourage the police departments everywhere in the nation to collect trace data on illegal gun trafficking like we do in chicago? so first, you're in chicago, you're a member of congress, what's your advice? and second, trace the guns. we're doing it in chicago. what do you think about across the nation? >> congressman, thank you for the question. you certainly raise an area of concern and priority for the department of justice, which is of course violence, be it gun violence or any type of violence in our cities as it affects our children, not only those who are the actual victims, but children
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who are exposed to violence of course suffer greatly as we know in their later development as well. we feel that the city of chicago is taking a concerted look at this problem. i'm extremely proud to note that the federal government through the u.s. attorney's office in chicago is working very closely with law enforcement on this issue, focusing on the issue of not just firearms but also the gang violence in chicago as well. we also have a very strong presence with our federal agencies, fbi as well as atf, who works closely with the chicago police department on the e-trace program that you mentioned. we do find it to be a very useful program. we do find it to be something that arms us with the data to trace the source of weapons into neighborhoods who suffer so grievously from them. it's an example that we would hope could be exported into our cities as well, as you have noted. i can tell you we're committed to continuing to work with the
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city of chicago and all of our major cities in violence reduction programs. in fact, chicago was represented at the violence reduction summit that i held just last month with the mayor and the police chief. and we had a very robust discussion about the causes of violence, some of the ways in which the department could be helpful in very targeted ways, whether it is increasing our task force presence, whether it is focusing on dangerous fugitives in the area, whether it is focusing on violence prevention efforts as well. so we remain committed to working not just with chicago but with all of our cities who are experiencing these troubling issues. >> so if you were to suffer something as egregious as a demotion to a member of congress from your high position as attorney general, what do you think? what would you do? you're back in chicago. you've got the motive. you're not the attorney general, you're just one of us.
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>> i certainly would not call that a demotion. i think all of us in public service have a great opportunity to serve our people. and certainly i think that within this body, there's a lot of significant discussion going on. obviously the resources to fund the programs that we have on the ground are essential in funding the department's budget that focuses on the smart-on-crime initiative, which does focus on violence reduction, because of course a grave concern is, as people return home to their communities, that they not return to violence as well. so certainly the resources that would be useful for the department's overall budget, and particularly when it comes to firearms, the resources for atf to continue its vigorous enforcement of the firearms laws and the e-trace program would be very beneficial. >> lastly, so there is a letter from my colleagues, congressman
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gallegos and robin kelly from chicago, and they've asked to meet with you with a group of members of the congressional hispanic caucus and black cau s caucus. i want to put it in some context for all the members, why we would invite you to meet particularly with that group. because african-americans are 13% of the population, but they constitute over half of all the homicides. over half. so 13%, 55% of all the deaths, given firearms. and interestingly, latinos are relatively less likely to own a firearm than the general population, yet again, they disproportionately die due to gun violence. so you have a population that doesn't own guns but dies of
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guns, and 13%, the black population. i know you got the letter. i love working with those two colleagues of mine. i was wondering if you would accept an invitation to come and meet with us. >> i look forward to meeting with the caucus. thank you so much. >> thank you very much. >> the gentleman from utah, mr. chaffetz. >> i thank the chairman. and thank you for being here. the inspect journey act currently on the books says that inspectors general, in carrying out their provisions under the act, is authorized to have access to all documents, papers, recommendations, and other people available to the applicable establishment which relate to programs and operations with respect to which the inspector general has responsibilities under the act. somehow the office of legal counsel indicated on july 20th that despite longstanding
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tradition within the fbi specifically, the department of justice inspector general is no longer allowed access to grand jury testimony, wiretap information, credit information. we disagree with that conclusion, but at this point we have worked with the inspector general, worked with this committee, and we're still waiting for full input from the department of justice to try to rectify this. i was hoping that i would get some commitment from you to work with us and spend time with us on the proposed piece of legislation. i think the current law is sufficient. but you don't. we're trying to come up with something that would rectify this. would you be willing, will somebody from the department of justice give us guidance and input on this? >> thank you, congress meman. you certainly raise the important issue of the work of the inspector general. >> i just want a commitment that
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you will work with us. >> we have sent legislation up. we feel that would clarify it and in fact ensure that the inspector general would receive all the information he needed. >> would you meet with us, not you specifically, >> would you meet with us to give us input on the piece of legislation that i'm drafting in a bipartisan way with mr. cummings to try to resolve this. >> we're happy to meet with you. >> and hopefully soon? >> i will have my staff reach out to yours. we're happy to meet with you and work with you on that issue. >> i've also had great concern on geolocation in july. the oversight committee we sent a letter seeking the so-called jones memos that relates to a supreme court case from a number of years ago. on october 26 i did a bipartisan bicameral letter, six representatives, five senators, including the ranking member from both judiciary committees
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in the house and the senate calling on the department of justice to share with the congress these letters. i still don't understand why you won't share this information with us. >> certainly respect to the request that you refer to, to the extent that it refers to the internal deliberative process of the department we typically do not provide those memos however we look forward to working with you to share the information -- >> you don't think the house judiciary committee and the senate judiciary committee should understand your approach there n tracking people through geolocation? >> we are willing to sit and work with you to convey what we can and as much as we can -- >> that's a huge step forward because thus far the department of justice has not been willing to have a meeting so i look forward to that. one more topic. i'm trying to go quick because of time. share with me your thoughts and
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perspectives on subpoenas. subpoenas are often issued from a variety of different places but congress also issues subpoenas. do you feel a duty and obligation to help enforce those subpoenas as well? >> certainly that's part of the obligation of the department of justice in terms of its general law enforcement obligations. >> when would you not enforce the subpoena? >> you know, i would have to know more specific facts and context to provide an answer as to whether or not we would not be able to for some reason or whether there would be a reason not to. i would have to have more. >> do you feel a duty and obligation to enforce then a congressionally issued subpoena? >> certainly with respect to a subpoena issued by any body, be it congress or be it court, be it a court, the decision as to whether to enforce it or not would be one that we would review and determine the best course of action to take. but i would certainly like to have more facts about the specific issue if i could. >> i think what the gentleman is asking is a subpoena as we go
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out and someone does not comply with a subpoena. how do you review the department's obligations to enforce compliance? a subpoena is only as good as your ability to enforce compliance and we don't have access to a police force, which is a good thing. so we're relying upon you to enforce them and i take the gentleman's question to be how do you view your obligation to back up this branch of government when it needs access to documents or witnesses? >> again, mr. chairman, i certainly with respect to a subpoena from this body or any other that would come to the department of justice for enforcement we would review all the information about that. certainly in my career as a prosecutor and as a u.s. attorney we've had -- i've had occasion to issue subpoenas and then work on alternate means of compliance both as a prosecutor and as a private attorney so there are a number of ways in which we can obtain compliance and i would certainly need to know more of the factual predicate before i could provide
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you with specific guidance. >> yes, ma'am. gentleman yields back. the chair will recognize the gentlelady from california ms. bass. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you attorney general lynch for your time today and also for your patience. it seems as though many people on the committee would like to have some of your time and -- >> that's quite all right. >> i listened to my colleague a minute ago as well as my colleague gutierrez and he mentioned the letter. there's a letter also that i sent to your staff requesting a meeting with you and perhaps what we could do is just join forces because i didn't realize there were multiple letters because the concern is really the increase in homicides in a number of cities and specifically the desire to sit down with you personally as well as members of your staff to look at various programs that the agency has that might be allocated in a more of an emergency fashion considering there has been a spike in
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specific cities so i would like to continue following up and perhaps if bid the middle of next month we could have the meeting it would be very good since we've been asking for a while. i wanted to know if you would tell us about the programs from a more global perspective. for example, the federal/local partnership like b-fed which i believe is the partnership between federal law enforcement and local police in baltimore. if you could talk about how those efforts are helping to address a spike in baltimore. as well as you mentioned your summit, the summit that you had in detroit and i wanted to know if you could perhaps share some of the lessons from that summit in terms of how cities are able to address the spike and after that i want to ask you a question about sex trafficking. >> thank you for those questions on topics of great importance to me as attorney general, the department of justice and the american people.
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with respect to the violent crime issues that we're facing, while -- as we have noted for -- for a number of months and even the last year or so we're fortunate in that crime in general is down across the country and in all of our major cities crime generally is down but we have neighborhood where there is a persistent issue of violence and we have nabtds whe where we have seen increases in violent crime. in my former role as u.s. attorney in brooklyn i had many of those neighborhoods within my district so i dealt with those on a daily basis. and i know the importance of a partnership in terms of dealing with that issue. baltimore is an excellent example of some of the resources the federal government is looking to bring to bear to deal with specific situations. we've partnered with the police department in baltimore to provide an influx of federal agents focusing on the violent
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crime problem to aid with the investigation and literally making those cases so that we can remove the violent offenders from the streets of baltimore and allow the citizens to continue to flourish in that great city. with respect to the summit that i had, because we were looking at this issue from a host of perspectives, this summer i asked my united states attorneys in cities that had seen an increase in violence in some neighborhoods to meet directly with their local partners and counterparts, district attorneys, police officers, sheriffs and discuss the nature of the crime increase and try and focus on the reasons to the extent that they could be cleaned from those discussions for those increases. we were able to essentially accumulate a great body of information there and as one can imagine the reasons for crime differ depending upon the neighborhood. with that, we built on that and convened our violent crime
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summit in october where we had mayors and police chiefs and u.s. attorneys from those cities here in washington speaking together, sharing best practices for crime reduction. >> if there are -- and i want to get to my last point and would ask the chair's patience with this perhaps we could get the information from that summit that happened in october? if we could get those proceedings it would be very helpful. finally i wanted to ask you about sex trafficking which i know is a high priority with you and i wanted to know if you could mention any specific collaboration that is taking place the department of health and human services, in particular because we know that a percentage of the girls involved in trafficking are in the foster care system. so the question is, is there collaboration between doj and dhhs and can you speak to that? >> certainly. we have a number of collaborations across different agencies. i cannot recall the specific ones with hhs but i would certainly like to provide you
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with that information. we also are works with the department of labor and state and local law enforcement in many ways to not only improve enforcement but provide services for the survivors. services range from housing services to treatment to therapy and the like. >> and i will follow up with you specifically getting these girls back into the costar care system is really critical so i'll specifically look for that collaboration. thank you, jury charge. >> yes, ma'am. gentlelady yields back. madam attorney general you've been sitting there for three hours. votes are coming which will provide a break but i am happy to break now giving the fact that you have been sitting there three hours. if you would like a break or we can march on. >> i would appreciate five minutes if that's possible. >> done. >> thank you, sir.
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as you can see, the house judiciary committee is taking a break. trey gowdy is standing with others and talking in the back. on capitol hill this afternoon there's a hearing on the relationship between local and federal law enforcement. that will be the senate judiciary subcommittee chaired by senator ted cruz.
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they'll interview the president of the naacp. that's beginning live at 2:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span 3. and, again, the committee here is taking a short break, about five minutes and then is expected to return.5y
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the five-minute break haas turned into going to the house floor for several votes so in the meantime we'll go to a segment of the washington journal today on the u.s. fight against isis. >> democrat of new jersey serves on the homeland security committee and represents trenton, princeton, and plainfield. good morning. >> and a lot more other towns. good morning. >> thank you for joining us this morning. >> thanks for having me. >> i want to start with events in paris. being a member of the homeland security committee, look at the event there is. what does it mean for homeland security here? >> well, homeland security here has been very diligent and very vigilant. we have an incredible system where we are vetting anyone trying to get in here. all of our sort of refugees who dent to come here go through an incredible vetting process that includes the fbi,
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counterintelligence, department of defense, department of state. we're constantly in contact with even local government and local government enforcement. so we're very vigilant and very concerned and make sure that the people who are trying to get here go through a vetting process that is almost unprecedented. it's been enhancing and growing over the last couple years. so the very tragic friday in paris where our hearts go out the the people affected, both families and the individuals who have lost their lives, the terror and fear associated with that experience we know that new jersey -- we know that new jersey with this country has been on its ps and qs recognizing that while we are in better stead because we don't share a bunch of border, we have a friendly border in mexico and
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a friendly border in canada but we're always on the ground making sure americans are safe. >> you talk about the confidence in the vetting program. this is as several governors, more than 20, have said they were going to hold off taken in syrian refugees because of the vetting, including governor christie of new jersey. >> >> i think there's a lot of emotional reaction to what we are visualizing that has taken place in paris and i think our states, our governors, including the governor of new jersey, will get to be reassured that individuals that are coming across our borders are going to biometrics, they're going through all kinds of identifying and reidentifying opportunity to determine who they are, what's
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their background, why are they trying to leave? we really have to balance our reaction to what we see and who we are because there are people who are leading syria because they've been persecuted, the threat of persecution, the violence, some are violently ill. there are vulnerable children and women and we're a country that had been open to accepting immigrants because we know they can make our country even better. this is a country of immigrants and we are the greatest nation in the world because of that diversity. >> if you want to ask questions of our guests, 202-748-8000 for democrats. 202-74 202-748-80001 for republicans. 202-748-8002 for independents. you have a briefing today. what are you expecting to learn
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about paris and homeland security. >> well, i've only been here since january but we've had several classified briefings where we are with regard to having our eyes on and resources applied to potential terrorist attacks so i'm sure they'll just give us the update. they're going to talk about this country reaching out sand building stronger coalitions. we're talking to russia now. we have a common purpose. that purpose is peace and i believe it will bring around more countries willing to engage in this. this is not our issue, this is not france's issue, this is a global issue and we need to have a globalized response to. >> it is the current response toward isis an appropriate one? the president said it would be a
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mistake to increase the ground troop capability. >> i agree with the president this is not something we should be putting boots on the ground because what are we going to do, as he said. we put boots on the ground in this situation and what happens if there is another situation with another country? do we put bootsen the ground there? there's no end to a war with boots on the ground. i think that we are start and strategic in how we are approaching this and i think that now recognizing that anybody is vulnerable and look at what happened with the russian plane i believe we're bringing more parties engaged in this, recognizing that they're threatened by there this so there will be more countries all in. >> our guest again, representative bonnie watson coleman. our first comes from philadelphia. this is debbie on our democrats line. you're on with our guest. good morning. >> caller: yes, governor romnod
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you. representative, i've been watching you. a powerful, powerful lady. continue to fight for the people. don't care about whether or not you're reelected, that's one of the problems, just fight for the people. my position is this. since folks want boots on the ground i would like for you to pose legislation that the politicians give their size so they can put boots on the ground and fight. i heard president obama say yesterday when he visits walter reed hospital that makes all the difference in the world when we want to talk about boots on the ground for these folks that want boots on the ground, are you ready to put your loved ones in harm's way? that's what i want to know. again, kudos to you. i've been watching you for years from philadelphia and i think you've done a great job with
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representing new jersey. >> first of all, let me thank you that that's my first question and that your reaction to my trying to be a public servant has been positive. i will continue to work on those issues that are important to me and take those positions that i believe that are the right ones to take. with regard to boots on the ground and with regard -- i think all of congress wants piece. i really believe this is a non-partisan bipartisan unipartisan issue that at the end of the day we want everyone to be safe and i'm prayerful and hopeful that as we debate this issue -- and i'm sure we're going to, that we're looking for peaceful means. that we're looking star from t.j. i can and application of our resources in such a way that we don't have boots on the ground. we're not having that loss of life and injury. >> here is john, virginia beach, virginia.
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independent line. >> caller: good morning. why can't we send more humanitarian aid to syria to stop the incoming of the refugees? because they don't food and water over there and assad is not willing to help them with that. we can also be seen as a leader in the humanitarian effort and that would prevent people -- make less people want to join isis to fight against us and also this bombing cities is not -- 21st century is not the best way to deal with isis. what we have to do is raise intel because we've seen that when israel was bombing gaza and the news said it was 80% civilian casualties. so i don't think it's the best efficient way to target isis. we have to raise more intel, better intel just like obama said and better communication of
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int intel. >> caller we'll let our guest respond. >> i want to thank you for that question because you hit a number of really important points. first of all, humanitarian aid is definitely important and to the extent that we're able to do that in syria given everything that's going on, i am certain we're committed to that. but accepting refugees who are fleeing violence, who are fleeing persecution, who are scared for their lives and their families, that's also the ultimate humanitarian aid that we can provide to other people. it has been provided in the past and it's who we are and it's not something that we should shirk our responsibility towards. with regard to issues of whether or not bombing from afar is the way to go as opposed to intel and communication, i think sharing more intel, sharing more
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communication, building more coalitions, all of these things are very important to ultimately be able to push back in isis to destroy isis. and i believe that we're being very, very careful as best as we can to be strategic in who is being targeted and where they're being targeted. and somewhat unlike the sort of israeli/palestinian situation, isis hasn't necessarily to my knowledge been as infiltrating of hospitals and schools and neighborhoods so we kind of know there are places that they're holed up and we're finding ways to remove them from strongholds that they've had and that's -- they're all things we have to put together to use to destroy this evil force that we have. >> you suspect, as you said, that you would see debates
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congressing in congress over this issue, a headline in the "los angeles times" said that paul ryan is under pressure to stop funding for syrian refugees. will you see debate in the next few weeks on this issue or do you imagine other issues related to what's going on with isis? >> i think it carries on what their mantra has been, the republican mantra has been about immigration anyway so of course we'll have this discussion and of course there will be strategic uses of rules and regulations and procedures to get at this but at the end of the day i believe we have to stand strong. that's not the answer to the problem. the answer to the problem is not to deny people who need refuge, who are legitimate refugees from coming into our country. now they don't just say "i'm a refugee, can i get here?" they go through an incredible vetting process that involves
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multiple agencies and sometimes it takes a year. so we're not taking this lightly but we have a responsibility to be a world leader in humanitarian aid and issue. that's who we are. that's why we are who we are and so we need to be able to push back on that. having said that, i'm certain we're going to have some very robust discussion on these issues. >> humble texas, thomas, republican line. thomas, go on with our guest. >> caller: hello. i was just wondering, 200 europeans were killed but everyday we had a mass shooting at our schools, i didn't see nobody say "well, let's save the kids." everyday 200 deaths in america is, like, one weekend? i mean, come on, why isn't the nsa in chicago? they're terrorists. the people who are plying them with guns are terrorists. they're killing our kids every dam day.
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>> thank you, thomas, appreciate that and i agree with you 100% that we need to be vigilant and diligent in this country. we may not have jihadists who are creating these sort of chaotic sand murderous events like in mother emanuel where innocent churchgoing people or people who are at mosque or at temple are being killed and i do believe that we have a domestic appreciation of this kind of terrorism and that we do have agencies working with local law enforcement, working with social service agencies, working with schools and working with local governments and state governments to identify and to inter'd have and prevent some of these things from happening, too. but you're absolutely right. we seem to be giving much more
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media coverage to what happened in paris -- which is an absolute, absolute tragedy -- but we also had a tragedy in kenya just a few days before that. that's an absolute, absolute tragedy. and we as a country need to be aware of all of these tragedies that take place. we need to understand that we need to be supportive and understand the implications of all of these things that are going on and we need to be able to support the positions and the leadership that identifys the solution to deal with whether or not it's nilness here or ideological alignment with right wing and racism here or whether or not it's jihadists and so-called religious ideology around the world. we have that responsibility. it's an environment this n which we find ourselves right now but i am certain that the united states of america is applying as
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much intelligence and as much resources as we can and that we're continuing to improve our knowledge base, our database, and our information gathering. >> so mark off of twitter says "i have zero confidence in federal government screening refugees from syria. how confident are you that a background check will suffice and offer specifics if you would." >> i believe that having had some classified briefings and unclassified briefings that there are multiple agencies engaged in vetting every applicant trying to come into this country and they're dealing with all kinds of law enforcement database, is international database, they are taking biometrics, they are any kind of control records and they are doing i think a very good job. but there's always a risk in
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immigration policies and who comes into the country so mistakes can be made but i believe that we have a pretty good record here. >> here is easton, pennsylvania. joan, democrats line for representative bonnie watson coleman of new jersey. >> caller: thank you and thank you for c-span. well, i, too, am worried about the number and the pictures that you see of what looks like able-bodied young men coming across into europe in both and then moving their way across and you mentioned specifically very good stats on vetting immigrants and doing biometrics. well from what i know about bio metrics, they only work if you have something to measure them against like fingerprints or hair follicles. if they here in a beta base somewhere. if there's no database and these young men who are coming across
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have nothing to go against and they're coming across without papers or passports, you don't even know if they're giving you the right name. so if they give you a made up name and wow that doesn't match anybody who's been arrested in europe or syria or -- you don't know who they are. so that's my real problem there: i don't care what -- if there's nothing in another system to measure it against. the other thing is, i'm becoming concerned about the use of the term "boots on the ground." i am a mother of two marine, they are not a pair of boots. they are flesh and blood in these boots that we are sending overseas or into harm's way and so instead of referring to them as a pair of boots, these are people, these are mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and children of people. they are not a pair of boots, so between that and a vetting
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process that i have zero confidence in, could you address at least the vettingíb# procesd some more specifics about biometrics and that would be helpful. thank you. >> thank you, joan. first of all, let me address the last issue first. you're right, we need to talk about the fact that it's not boots on the ground that we're sending into harm's way, it is husbands and brothers and cousins and sons and daughters and mothers and wives and these are human beings and we really need to ensure that we're putting as few people as possible in harm's way. with regard to the vetting process. you're right, you need to have a sample in order to measure it against something but there are other things that are accessed during this vetting process. wherever the person is coming from, whether or not there's any kind of criminal history, whether or not there are any
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connections. what has been that person's history to the extent that we can get it. and the interesting thing about this is that less than 2% of the refugees who are seeking to come here are men, are unattached men. so the population that we're dealing with is a fraction of the population of vulnerable people who have -- who have been persecuted, who have been threatened, who have experienced violence, who have very serious illnesses and who are mothers and children which are the priority here. >> dee from newbury park, california, independent line. hi. >> caller: hello. i would like to follow up about the last caller who is calling. i've listened to the head of the fbi, current one, then the former assistant fbi director james kallstrom on c-span and other places talk about the
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situation about bringing the refugees here, these people that are having to leave their country. i totally agree with the woman before that we will not be able to vet them adequately because there is no information. there's -- in paris one of the attackers i think they said they had eight, ten different passports on them, forgeries. we can't even vet our transportation employees. what was it? a dozen or so of them found out they had criminal records, et cetera, that they were vetted poorly? we can't track people here on visas that come in on an h 1b visa or some other kind of visa and we don't track them and they overstay. we here all the time they're part of the illegal people in this country so we're not vetting them. our fbi is right now tracking about 850 to 900 cases, as the
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fbi director said, that takes 24/7, that means everyday. already and that there's already cells that's known in every state of this country. >> gotcha, bonnie. gotcha caller, thank you. representative? >> thank you appreciate that question and i recognize your concern because these are challenges and i think that even as we speak there are enhancements to this vetting process taking place, some of which are classified and that we can't talk about. but you said something very interesting and that is that the fbi is currently tracking some 800 cells, i think you mentioned. that means that we do have good intelligence on the ground. it means that our interconnectability of information is bringing us closer to who could possibly be a threat to us. i think that there's a wrong impression that this vetting process to bring a refugee into
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this country is something that happens quickly. we don't this porous boarder that they do in europe and the sort of free flowing between these borders. the united states of america has friends in the south and friends in the north and so we're working cooperatively not only with them but even with our partners across the ocean into europe and other places and i think bringing together more countries who recognize the collective threat that this isis could bring to their well-being, particularly over there even in the middle east, even in europe brings an even greater degree of information and a willingness to share and we shall take advantage of that. >> republican line, glenville, north carolina. carol, hi. >> caller: hi, and thank you for taking my call. i was happy to hear some of the
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previous callers who actually had the same questions that i did because i feel like vetting refugees is a mystery. there are no specifics. i haven't heard any specifics. i'd also like to know if a refugee does not pass the vetting what is done with them. where are they sent back to? are they just on their own? i haven't heard anything about that. also, on another subject, leaders in our country and throughout the world should be ashamed of themselves of the way they have sat back and allowed isis to continue their terror against christians and the free world as we saw last weekend in paris. 50 specials on tro ops troops d the job and a few bombs dropped down on various locations do not do the job. and this idea that men and women
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of the military should not be boots on the ground or shouldn't be put in harm's way, this is what they do. the military is there and people in the military chose to be there and this is what they do. they protect the citizens of the united states and that is their job. >> caller, thank you. >> thank you very much for that question, carol. i'm not sure where an applicant goes if he or she has an application which is denied. he or she is not able to come into the united states. i can only tell you that the person is not permitted to come into the united states. i believe that the president has been speaking most recently about intensifying efforts against isil as it relates to air strikes. i do agree with the president that we can't put our men and
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women in harm's way with no way of winning the war and no way of getting out. we've already done that. we should be informed by our past experiences. we want into iraq. we went into afghanistan and what has happened? are we better there for having gone into iraq the way we did? i don't think so. i think that working with our partners across this world, working with our law enforcement, working with our military across this world is what's going to signal the difference and the termination of isil's effort. >> our guest represents the state of new jersey and is a member of the homeland security committee. she's representative bonnie watson coleman. you have also been chosen to serve on the select investigative panel on infant lives. what is that? >> well, i think it's an afortunate attempt on the part of the republican leadership to continue to attack women's
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health care, women's access to health care and reproductive rights. and i was really hoping that with this new beginning with our new speaker that we would have a new beginning with regard to this, too. >> it stemmed from the issues of planned parenthood. >> it stemmed from issues of planned parenthood. it stemmed from republican interpretationover problems with planned parenthood that have not been validated through any of the many, many, many committee meetings they've had so this really is nothing more than a continuation of the attack on women's rights and women's right to choose and the negative impact this will have on access to health care. >> in fact, the chairwoman of the committee, representative marsha blackburn wrote an op-ed about the goal of the committee and you can respond. she said "the focus of our investigation will be to review medical procedures of abortion providers and business practices of procurement organizations as well as the relationship that exists between the two entities.
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we'll look at how title ten funds are being used to ensure taxpayer dollars are not going to fund abortion procedures. not one cent of taxpayer money should be going to fund big abortion business." >> i think she's spoken to everything we already know. we know excite l x funtitle x f to abortion unless it's rape or insist. it's against the threw do otherwise. we know that flood wasn't involved in the selling of fetal tissue for profit or anything but in it had been engaged in the availability of this issue it was for research purposes just like other health care facilities. we know that this is an attack on a woman's right to have access to planned parenthood, to be able to plan families and to be able to have access to contraception. we know this, we know what planned parenthood.
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does, we know what it doesn't do, we know that planned parenthood's role with regard to termgs termination is a very small percentage of what they do. we already know that. you know why we know that? we know that because they've held quite a few hearings on these issues and they've tried to break down, break down, break down planned parenthood and they're tried to get planned parenthood to agree to things that are not true and not so and they're relying on these ridiculous videos that have been unmercifully edited and we don't even bring that individual in and check his veracity. >> those videos changed the conversations about this topic. >> those videos just presented an opportunity for republicans to find another way to attack a woman's right to choose. so i've only been in congress since january and monthly if not
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more there's some attachment to some piece of legislation designed to limit a woman's right to make decisions regarding her health care. this is ridiculous. no one elected us to do this. they elected us to move forward with policies that will enhance our economy. if you want to deal with a woman, deal with the right to be paid the same that a man is being paid. income disparity is an issue. they sent us there to ensure there's no discrimination in applying for work and living your life and being who you are. they sent us there to build highways and protect with us bridges and to ensure that public transportation, things of that nature are efficient a andesqand effective. they did not send us there to continue to take away something
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that the supreme court has decided that other laws have decided. they did not send us there to have this continued assault on a woman's health care. >> this will committee have subpoena powers then? is that how it will work and this will differ from other committees. >> i'm not sure of what t breadth of what this committee is going to do. i'm not even sure the speakers would say it's a right decision to even call it into a meeting. if i were in leadership at this moment, having had this committee organized, i would just simply not deal with it. it is not a winning issue for them. >> you wrote an op-ed to this point "message to speaker writian, lwrite i -- ryan, let it go." >> let it go. let's talk about access to health care, more access, not limited. let's talk about economic
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opportunities, pay equity. let's talk about voting rights. let's talk about civil rights and let us talk about moving this country forward. >> has there even been a first meeting set up for this committee yet? >> not yet. >> and you don't have any indication of when you will start? >> not yet. >> you can talk about this issue, the previous issues we've been talking about, denice ai, florida, democrats' line. go ahead. >> caller: i agree 100% with everything that ms. coleman has said. the syrians are not invading. they're refugees, they're mostly women and children. yes there's always going to be slippages but there's anywhere you go. florida we had some people but the thing is it irritates me to death that these republicans skew the numbers of people that do not want to go into these other countries: 76% do not want
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to go into these countries but yet the republicans say the majority of. well, last time the majority was 51%. so there's a large number of people who do not want to have military on the ground. i am the spouse of a 22-year veteran and let me tell you, this is totally ludicrous that we should put our men in danger and let me tell you, the special forces are the best in the world. >> thanks, caller. >> thank you very much, denice, special forces are indeed the best in the world. you come from a very important state, so is new jersey and every other state and i believe you're right on spot on your position with regard to this. make sure that the people that represent you understand where you come from and people like you in the state of florida. >> here is ben from clayton, louisiana, independent line. >> caller: yes, i'd like to ask
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ms. coleman a question. i don't understand why she keeps using the word "there may be mistakes" and that just leaves her a way out of having to answer for something that does happen really bad. and on the planned parenthood, i don't understand why they care about destroying life. that's just five minutes of a woman spreading her legs. i mean, come on. >> you can respond if you wish. >> well, i'm not certain what when is referring to when i said there may be mistakes but we're humans so there will always be a mistake when a human is involved. the question is, do we have the system set up to make us as safe as possible. if that question applied to our considering bringing refugees and dealing with isis. and with regard to planned parenthood, i think that the
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question for all of us is does a woman have a right to choose what to do with her reproductive options and what does planned parenthood do in terms of providing health care options to the underserved and the marginally -- marginal people who would otherwise not have access. they do breast phams, they do std testing. they do all kinds of exams and provide contraception so we don't have unwanted pregnancies. this is a health care organization that if it were not there many women and even young men would not have access to health care. >> mohammed, washington, d.c., republican line. hi. >> caller: good morning. i want to thank representative
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coleman for her commitment to american safety while we take in refugees under lady liberty. i do have a further question regarding the vetting process, though. my understanding that is that the boston marathon bombers came from a family of refugees from the chechen complex and even the bombers' mother has not had the most sympathetic views towards the american people following the bombing. so my question is are there any specific lessons the government has learned from the vetting process of the tsarnaevs? i would appreciate any specific lessons learned. thank you. >> there is an enhanced vetting process that relates to new refugees trying to come in into the country. i also also aware that -- and
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someone else spoke to this even earlier how there are cells that are being watched right now by the fbi. and i've been informed that we do have multiagency interaction with regard to people of interest. so while we're not perfect and things can happen from time to time i do believe we've been vigilant and diligent and that has resulted in less exposure to very terrifying experiences like we've had in paris, like we had on 9/11. but i really can't go into the specifics of what that means in terms of 2 t additional
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intelligence and counterintelligence and information sharing. >> our guest for the next few minutes, representative bonnie watson coleman, democrat of new jersey. joseph from delaware, you're on with our guest on our democrats' line. go ahead. >> caller: hi, how are how you ? i'm from delaware, and i can see new jersey from my house. the refugees. governor markell wants to let them into delaware. and we are absolutely not. i'm a democrat. i am switching parties now to the republicans because they are making more sense. this is not milk and cookie time. this is not nap time. this is a time to be very, very careful. i was wondering if she can get governor christie, have her ask him what he thinks about the whole situation, because i'm pretty sure i know what his answer is going to be. what do you think about that? why don't they let them into new
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jersey? >> first of all, i hope that you will see over the next couple of days and weeks just how intense and strategic and comprehensive the vetting process is. and just how safe our states and our communities will be when the refugees who are given permission to come here, come here. this country does not take that responsibility lightly. and so while i know that there has been an e visceral, emotional reaction to what we saw in paris, understand that. i believe that we need to rely upon all of those agencies that have our best interests and our safety and security in mind, and i believe they've been doing a very good job. i think if i asked the governor of the state of new jersey why he took the position, i think he would say he believes his
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position on the national stage. >> john from new york. go ahead. >> caller: good morning. i'm a former marine, and while i was deployed, they used women and children in their tactics. how do you know that they're not going to be getting through that screening process? >> thanks, john. i don't know if you're referring to isis, or some other jihadist entity. i think the enhanced sharing of information and intelligence is probably putting us in a better position and it's probably -- i would think it would be putting us in a position to respond, react, and affirmatively act with more data at hand. >> richmond, virginia. chucky. thanks for holding on, democrats line. good morning.
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>> caller: good morning, how you doing? yes, i'm talking about the ground troops. if we had a million ground troops in syria, the issue in paris will still happen. isis has spread all through europe. and ground troops in syria is not going to stop that. but, as far as refugees coming to america, i believe there should be none. i agree with the republicans on that issue, because we should build some kind of safe haven in the middle east for the refugees. and not bring them to america. but i believe what obama is doing as far as getting other countries involved, especially middle eastern countries so that we can handle the isis situation. and thank you for letting me say my talk. thanks. >> thanks for your thoughts on this, chucky, and thanks for your idea about a safe haven in
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the middle east, which is kind of an interesting concept right now, given the sort of turmoil in the middle east. but i think we have to remember that we're a nation of immigrants and we have a process and processes that are keeping us safe and secure, and we recognize that immigrants have helped to make this country great, and the diversity of population has made us rich and understanding, and this represents our value system, then i think that we need to be very cautious in saying that we'll not receive refugees into the united states of america. because refugees were here from very, very early on. >> dave off of twitter adds this. saying we need to go very slowly, take babies and the elderly and the weakest first, but other countries closer to syria should also take them in. >> no disagreement. we do prioritize who we're taking in. >> starting with -- >> starting with the very ill, those who have been
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prosecuted -- i mean, persecuted. those who have been threatened with persecution. women and children. >> magnolia springs, alabama. mary is up next on our republican line. good morning. >> caller: yeah, i called in for a different reason. i don't understand ms. coleman. she went from refugees to abortion. number one, i want to know how many abortions she's had. i want to know why she supports abortion. i don't. i'm a catholic. and i don't like politicians who say they're catholic and support abortion. but number one is, where the hell are we with allowing huge men -- you can see them on the borders of france and europe. and we're allowing them to come in and infiltrate.
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we have a problem in the adirondacks of new york state. >> okay, caller. >> caller: um. i'm not a pro-abortionist. i am a person who believes that a woman has a right to choose. and those decisions are between a doctor and the patient. and that position has been upheld in both the supreme court and in legislation. so, hopefully that answers your question with regard to where i am on that issue. i want to reiterate about this whole refugee issue as it relates to, quote unquote, able-body, unattached men. the records indicate that less than 2% of the refugees coming in that will be coming into this country are men. that's number one. and number two, the process -- the application process is
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indeed sort of long, complicated, complex, and comprehensive. >> representative bonnie watson coleman, democrat from new jersey. thank you for your time this morning.
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committee will come to order. welcome back. thank you for the break in allowing us to go vote, and at this time, we'll continue questions. the chair recognizes ms. walters from california. >> thank you, mr. chairman. attorney general lynch, last year i followed the various scandals that plagued the department of veteran affairs, and like many americans, i was appalled at the manipulation of patient wait times at numerous v.a. facilities. our veterans risk life and limb to serve this nation and the v.a. failed them. fbi director james comey confirmed on june 11th, 2014, that the fbi was investigating criminal allegations. and this was one the veterans affairs related to the manipulation of patient wait times. can you provide to us a status of an update regarding the
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investigation? >> thank you for the question. i certainly share your concern and regard for our nation's veterans. having several of them in my own family. with respect to that matter, i'm not able to provide you an update at this time. i would like to have my staff reach out to you after we see what information we'd be able to provide to your office. >> okay. are there any cases in which the department of justice has decided to pursue charges against v.a. employees for manipulating wait times? and if not, why not? >> you know, i'm not aware at this point in time of the status of that matter, so again, i would not be able to give you that information. what i can say, congresswoman, and not to delay the time, is that certainly the service of our veterans of great importance to us and we support them in a number of ways, not just through the investigation that you referred to, but through our service member's initiative app and our work protecting their right to vote overseas as well
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as our implementation of services such as veterans courts, and working with local municipalities to alleviate homelessness in veterans. all of these >0zjtáh(lague our veterans and are something that we as a nation need to be engaged in. >> do you happen to know how many v.a. medical facilities are under active investigation for manipulating wait times? >> i'm not able to give you that information at this time. >> okay. and you wouldn't know when the investigations are planned to be concluded? >> no, but i certainly would appreciate the chance to get back to you with that. >> okay. just a couple more questions. how many cases has the doj declined? >> i'm not able to give you that information. >> okay. thank you. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes mr.
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richmond. >> thank you for coming and thank you for enduring several hours of testimony. i will try to be very brief. what i wanted to do in the beginning is ask unanimous consent to enter into the record a report from the clemency report, which 25 women deserving of clemency of interest to me would be, of course, sharonda jones and daniel mets. i would like to give that copy to you so that we can talk about it in the future. there are cases where women were sentenced to either natural life in jail or really large number of years when they were not actual king pen, they were just either following their boyfriend or other things. i really like to do something on that as we talk about criminal justice reform and move forward.
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i represent new orleans, and we're under a unique situation, where we have a consent decree for our sheriff's department and the cost of the implementation of those consent decrees are a large part of our city budget. and in an effort to make the police department more constitutional and the jail more constitutional, which are both laudable goals, we are sacrificing city services that will keep people from having to deal with the police or the sheriff's department. we're depleting all of our resources on the right. it's not helping, and we have an increase in response time that's almost an*, hour. look at consent degrees. when you have a unique instance
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when you have more than one consent decree in a small jurisdiction, can you all help to provide resources so that we can comply with the consent decree, but two, not use critical services for our youth and our public to keep them safe at the same time? >> i appreciate the questions. certainly, our practice of being involved. not just consent decrees, but collaborative reform and technical assistance is an important way in which we provide assistance to our colleagues there. with respect to the new orleans situation, again, i think every municipality does see these as a financial challenge. and we certainly understand that. we view it as an investment in the future of constitutional policing and constitutional jails. when a jurisdiction is involved with a consent degree, they still are able to apply for grants and other programs from other portions of the
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department, or any other agency. so it would not preclude the kind of assistance that you are talking about. and certainly, i'm happy to have someone from our grant-making arm reach out to your staff and talk about options there. >> i would just say that because it's taken up such a disproportionate and large part of our city budget, we're having to raise taxes, and we're having to cut services such as youth recreation and other things that would keep kids out of trouble in the first place. so we don't want to overstress constitutionality and then at the same time take opportunity away from kids. to the extent where there's grants and other things, we'd appreciate it. attorney general holder and secretary duncan sent out an advisory on the school-to-prison pipeline. and i would just hope that that's something that you all are beginning to follow up with. we had a bill, but it seems like school districts are still not getting the word that police are not the answer to a school
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discipline problem. so what are you all doing in that effort? >> with respect to the pipeline, it is still a very important focus of the civil rights efforts. we provide guidance to school districts and law enforcement organizations. we actually have a number of cases that were brought approximately, two and a half years ago by the civil rights division challenging school district's disciplinary policies, and we are trying to provide assistance to reduce the zero tolerance policies that tend to be the start of this problem. that in conjunction with providing appropriate training to law enforcement officers should schools choose to have school resource officers, is a way in which we hope will be helpful to every school district in dealing with these issues. obviously, school districts have to have discipline. but just as obviously, the education and future of the children really is the first priority. >> two things, as i close. one is to stress the importance of the cop's program and
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additional funding for community policing and other initiatives that would help. the second two are requests. one would be to urge you to continue to work with the district court, to push specialty courts, where there's drug courts, re-entry courts, or other things that could help would be very, very important. the other is to request, can your office get to me the statistics on the adjudicated deferral of convictions, the diversion program. how many people get accepted and what those demographics look like, because i am very concerned that diversion programs are usually used for those who have means, and those who have some sort of political connections or community connection, and that people who really need it don't get the benefit of the doubt to get accepted in it. so if i could get a year or two worth of data on diversion
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programs, who's admitted and what those demographics look like, who's rejected and what those demographics look like, i'd appreciate it. >> the gentleman's time is expired, but it's a good question if the witness would like to answer or provide the information requested. >> i look forward to providing you information on those points. with respect to diversion points, because they are often run by the court system, we would look for ways to get you information from the office of court administration also. but certainly we do have a wealth of information on the success of those programs. >> thank you. the chair now recognizes myself for questions. on september 28th, 2015, the v.a. office of inspector general report recommended the u.s. attorney's office district of columbia pursue criminal charges against two executives it found to abuse their responsibility. the report detailed how the v.a. executives pressured sub offensive coordinator gnats to accept transfers only to volunteer for the vacated jobs while keeping their original sal
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ris and having the v.a. pay them for more than 400,000 taxpayer relocation benefits. will the doj pursue charges against these employees and if not, why not?will the doj pursu against these employees and if not, why not? >> with respect to a matter that's been recently referred to the department, it's a matter that is currently under review, so i'm not able to comment on it at this time. >> well, i think one of the things that's an issue, and i think the gentlelady from california also talked about it, the v.a. issue is something that has been ongoing. and i think you might a rightful statement that our veterans deserve that support and help, and i think we're seeing -- we've seen it in georgia where people are just transferred and not held accountable. there's some that have been held accountable. i think coming to this conclusion is more than just words. actions have to be taken here. and to simply say we're going to look into this, frankly the american people on both sides of the aisle are not satisfied with that kind of a response. i do appreciate your mention of
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veterans court. we're expanding that process. judicial circuits have worked well in that regard. so i would commend that and continue the process as we look forward. i want to move to an area that is coming up a little bit on trade secrets, issues. and we recognize that trade secrets are a form of intellectual property. companies are increasingly targets of efforts to still proprietary information harming our global competitiveness. there are many who believe we need to create a federal civil remedy for the misappropriation of trade secrets, keeping and harmonizing the legal framework so that companies can protect. the administration supported a call for private right on action on trade secrets. do you join them in recognizing that such a private right of action would be beneficial? >> certainly, congressman, you raised an important issue, and a great priority to both me and the entire department of justice. we are committed to prosecuting cyber criminals who do seek to steal our intellectual property.
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i believe the last recent estimate was that we are losing possibly up to $250 billion worth of intellectual property a year through hacks and crimes and the likes, and we look forward to working with you on the proposed legislation that you mention, that you discussed. >> so you do believe the private right of action would complement your efforts, given the resources and limited actions many times that you have, that would be something that would complement your actions -- >> i'd like to see the language, but certainly we look forward to working with you on that. >> and we're jumping to several different issue. one i want to come back to that was brought up earlier, it has to do with sanctuary cities. and it goes back to a question -- i want to know, has doj taken any action to withhold law enforcement grants or other funding to sanctuary jurisdictions? if not, why not? >> well, the grant process under which doj operates is a formula-based grant-making process and different organizations and entities within cities apply.
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certainly with respect to our grant-making process in general, we're always cognizant of concerns that come up within certain jurisdictions. we have found that through our grant-making process, we can effectuate great change. >> if you don't mind me interrupting, but shouldn't following the law be a prerequisite for a grant? >> certainly we work to enforce not only the laws that you are referring to, but all the laws with the cities with whom we work. >> but getting a grant, if you're not following the law, have no intention of following the law, why should -- i mean, at that point in time, the application should be set aside. follow the law, we'll talk to you about your grant. why can't we get to that? >> well, thank you for the question, congressman. certainly it's been raised in a number of contexts. we do find that our grants are very focused on specific areas. for example, providing more police officers. on the ground. >> again, you've got great talking points. i appreciate that. that's not my question. how can you -- if you're using money to circumvent the law, as
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you just basically implied, that's even worse. you don't incentivize this kind of behavior. why would it just not be a permanent stop to the grant-making process until a city or municipality or government entity complied with the law? >> well, congressman, with respect to our grant-making process, we do make very discreet focused grants to specific portions of city government. >> so in essence, you have subsidized lawless behavior. that's what the attorney general of the united states of america of america has just testified to. and you can sit -- that's what you just testified to. you'll give money to a locality that is not following the law because you want to use your grant in discreet, private ways. is that what you just said? >> we use our grants to incentivize better behavior in a host of ways, and our grant-making policy is focused on a very rigorous application process -- >> so you're telling the people that taxpayer dollars that come to them is being used and will not even be considered if a
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locality is not complying with the law, you will still give their tax dollars to a locality that's not complying with the law. is that your testimony? >> we look at a host of factors. >> so the answer is yes? it is yes. i mean, this is the part -- and the ranking member made a great point earlier when he first started. i'm going to finish up with this. i've had these hearings, and you'll be back before us at another time and i look forward to those hearings. but what is amazing to me and the american people watching here is, he said tell the truth, but also being prepared for questions. you're going get v.a. questions here. you're going to get sanctuary questions here. a host of questions.
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>> thank you, mr. chair. thank you, attorney general, for being with us here today and for all of your time. as you are no doubt aware, in 2012, voters in my home state of washington passed initiative 502, which legalized the sale, consumption, and taxation of marijuana products. including washington, 23 states and the district of columbia have legalized some form of marijuana.
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marijuana reform measures that have been introduced in congress and there's still the ongoing concerns about the conflict between state and federal law in many areas, particularly in banking, for example. they range from resrescheduling. my bill would give you, the attorney general, the authority to wave the controlled substa e substances act for states that are effectively regulating marijuana themselves. such as washington state. so it authorizes a waiver from the controlled substances act for states that meet requirements preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors, violence or use of firearms in cultivation and distribution of marijuana, and
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drunk driving. i want to thank your team for answering questions that my team had as we were in the drafting process. i wanted to hear from you your thoughts on this type of legislation and this approach to reform and about how the enforcement priorities that were outlined in the cole memo have been working. >> thank you, congresswoman, for the question. and we're happy to provide information and assistance as needed by your staff as you review this important issue. certainly the factors that have been outlined in the cole memo and that have been stressed in further discussions with the community remain consistent. our concerns are the areas that you mentioned. where a state chooses to have a legalized marijuana structure, we will review that structure and look at that. but our concern is, frankly, that marijuana getting into the hands of minors and also being trafficked out of state, where a state may have not made the same choice. we also have grave concerns about the areas of the edible products that are so appealing
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to children and expose them to this product, which i don't believe is the goal of the regime that you're talking about. but is a concern of ours. we are concerned about the higher levels of the marijuana trafficking industry. so at the federal level, we are focusing our resources on that type of enforcement action. we are continuing to do so. we prosecuted cases involving importation of large amounts of marijuana, utilizing an indian reservation on the canadian border. also organized crime connections. so we certainly still have a robust practice. again, we focused limited federal resources on those types of cases. >> but we know that we have states like ours that have challenges, banking in particular, because they're still -- while there may not be, you know, active activity against states who have legalized, we still have
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situations where banks are not able to serve these types of businesses because of the contract between state and federal law. my legislation would allow you to issue waivers to states that meet and provide effective regulatory regime, and these would be three-year waivers, so that you're able to give those states a waiver from the controlled substances act, and establish the requirements they were going to meet. is that a type of legislation that you think would help address the issues that we have between federal law and state law today? >> and we're certainly happy to review any proposal that you think would be helpful and to provide kmentd comment on that. i'd have to look further at that proposal before i could respond. >> it is a bill we introduced, and we worked to get feedback from your office. i also wanted to ask quickly -- you talked about creating a new cyber security unit within the criminal division, and i wanted to ask exactly, you know, what made you decide to do that, and
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what are the goals of that particular new unit? crime unit. we have a cyber security unit focusing on computer intrusions, computer hacking, and the sophisticated types of computer activity that hackers, many of whom are based overseas, are using, to infiltrate our systems. the types of activity involve not just the wholesale theft of private information, which can be so challenging at a very basic level of identity theft, but also the theft of personal information such as health care information, which raises significant privacy concerns, and also intellectual property. we find that private industry is being targeted, particularly our financial services are being targeted at an increasing level by cyber intruders who are seeking to essentially take advantage of american technology and ingenuity and siphon it overseas for production there
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without the benefit of the work that we put into it. as i indicated in response to mr. chairman's question, that recent estimates indicate that approximately up to $250 billion worth a year worth of our intellectual property is being lost to us through that. this is a grave concern, as all of us seek to make sure that our economy is as strong as possible. that we get the benefit of american ingenuity and american technology. and that we protect what our protected secrets. many of the matters that are being stolen are not only sensitive, but very, very unique to particular industries. we felt we needed to increase the resources to this. the problem is increasing. in addition, it is working very, very well. one way in which it's working very well is through our connections to private industry. we along with the fbi and the secret service have made
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extensive discussions with private industry, general council, ceos, cios about cyber secret, and the need to share information about breaches when they occur. we are also ramping up within the federal government our own efforts to provide information to companies when we determine that they have been the subject of a breach or a hack. we are working to reduce our response time, to get information to them as quickly as possible, so they can also begin protecting their data and protecting their information. so it's been a very positive effort. >> thank you so much. i yield back. >> thank you. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from florida. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome, madam attorney general. when you were the u.s. attorney and you received inquiries about an ongoing investigation, how would you respond to those inquiries typically? >> well, mr. congressman, thank you for the question. it is department policy and certainly my own view as a career prosecutor, typically our response would be that we're not able to comment on an ongoing
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matter. >> and part of the reason for that is because if you're out making statements to the press, that detracts from the public's confidence that you're doing it by the facts, that you're trying to prejudice the investigation. is that fair to say? >> that is certainly one of the reasons. >> did you ever prosecute a case against someone with whom you had either a relationship on a professional or personal basis? >> can you be more specific? >> did you ever get assigned a case where the defendant was somebody that you knew either personally or professionally that had a private relationship? >> that did not occur in my experience. >> would it have been appropriate, do you think, for you to have had a case of someone who, you know, maybe you worked with prior to taking the position as a prosecutor, would that case likely have been sent to a prosecutor who did not have that relationship? >> it depends entirely on the facts and circumstances of the case. what type of case it was. whether it involved an individual, an entity. every case is looked at on its own merits. >> and so here's why i'm kind of
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asking these questions. i delivered a letter, you probably haven't had a chance to read it yet, from a number of my colleagues, over 40 of us, requesting that you appoint a special counsel to look into the situation with former secretary of state hillary clinton's e-mails. and the applicable regulations say that that's warranted if there's a conflict of interest for doj or there are other extraordinary circumstances, and it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside special counsel. so here's why i think it makes sense. you were appointed the u.s. attorney in 1999 by president bill clinton. and i've had a chance to meet a lot of people who have served as ambassadors. i've never met anybody who doesn't have esteem for the person that appointed them to the office and it's a tremendous honor. your current boss, who appointed you to your current job, president obama, appointed you again to the u.s. attorney's office and to your current job as the attorney general, and it's been said, made statements
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saying that somehow there's no damage to national security. and you have the presumptive presidential nominee of your party is subject to this investigation. so to me, that would meet any definition of extraordinary circumstances. i don't think we could probably find a similar fact pattern in american history where such an investigation was put up. so why not assign somebody who's trustworthy to serve as a special counsel, and this way, however the investigation goes out, the public's going to have much more confidence in the outcome. >> well, congressman, thank you for your letter. i look forward to reviewing it and will provide a response. >> but why not -- forget about the letter. why aren't these extraordinary circumstances? >> well, i would never forget about your letter, first of all. and we will provide a response to that. we will provide you with a response. >> do you think that you as the
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attorney general, having the investigation that concerns the spouse of somebody that's appointed you previously to a very important position? and it's not saying that somehow you're not going to try to do a good job. but it's human nature, i think, and then the appearance of whether there's a conflict of interest at stake is something that i think a lot of people are concerned about. and i appreciate that you're going to review the letter. but do you not see why that would cause people a little bit of pause? >> congressman, we will review everything raised in your letter and provide you with a response. >> we look forward to doing that and hopefully you will do that in a timely fashion. your predecessor usually did not respond in a timely fashion. the vetting of the refugees. it's different from the testimony we had from the fbi director a couple weeks ago about our capacity to vet. he i think said that you're getting better at it but that you can't guarantee. your department brought terrorism charges against a number of bosnian immigrants, at
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least one of whom was a refugee. what happened in that case involving the bosnian who was indicted on material support for terrorism charges in february 2015? >> i'd have to look at that specific case before i can provide you with an answer about that. if it were an ongoing case, i wouldn't be able to comment about it, so i'm not able to give you that answer at this time. and we'll see what information we can provide about that matter. as i indicated, we have a robust screening mechanism for refugees from all countries. the fbi, department of homeland security, department of defense, state department. it uses interviews, biometric data. it is, as i indicated earlier, a challenging process. as is everything we do in law enforcement. that does not mean that we're not committed to doing everything that we can to make sure that the process is as robust as possible and that we do everything that we can to protect the american people.
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>> i think the concern, though, is that you can do everything right, but given the lack of data, the lack of information that we have on people who are being pulled out of a very, very difficult circumstance, essentially an islamic civil war, that you can do everything right and you can still have people come into the country who mean to do us harm. this bosnian was able to get in, and probably circumstances that it would have been easier to vet than with syrians. i appreciate your testimony and i yield back. >> the chair now recognizes the gentleman from new york, mr. jeffers. >> thank you for your presence and your testimony here today and your leadership. one of my colleagues from illinois mentioned earlier that in the city of chicago, approximately 60% of the instances of gun violence can be traced to weapons that were initially purchased in either the neighboring states of wisconsin or indiana, as well as
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i believe from mississippi. it's also a case that many of the weapons that are used to commit crimes in south central los angeles can be traced initially to the neighboring state of arizona. we've got a similar problem in new york in terms of the weapons that are used often to commit crime in the city. experienced the deaths of four officers in the line of duty over the last ten months. detective ramos, detective lui, brian moore, and randolph holder. it was a very diverse group. emblematic of the increased diversi diversity. they all paid the ultimate price. one of the things they had in common were that the weapons that were killed to kill each of these officers came from outside of the state. detective ramos and detective lui were killed by a weapon that
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came from georgia. officer moore, a weapon that came from georgia. officer holder, a weapon that came from south carolina. so it seems that even as certain states see fit to tighten their gun violence prevention laws, because there's no national legislative effort, many states have been subjected to closing the front door, but guns being able to come in to those states through the back door. the you think the gun trafficking laws that currently exist on the books are adequate for the atf, the fbi, the department of justice to do its job in combatting gun violence? >> certainly, congressman, the protection of the american people, particularly when it comes to gun violence, is one of our highest priorities and we are committed to making every effort to carry out that goal and that responsibility. we look to vigorously enforce all the laws on the books.
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there are a number of cases, i recall when i was still in brooklyn, that my colleague in the brooklyn d.a.'s office was able to essentially close down a firearm trafficking ring that was bringing guns, as you indicated, from georgia to new york. so it's something that all levels of law enforcement take very seriously. we work closely with our state and local colleagues on this issue. and we will continue to do so. certainly should congress consider additional information, we'd be able to provide input and comment on that. that is something that i think there is a debate about and i think all voices should be part of that debate. >> has the department of justice taken a position as to whether universal background checks or comprehensive background checks would be something that congress should look to do as it relates to tightening our gun violence prevention laws? >> certainly, i think we've provided information about cases and about trends that we have seen that we hope would be helpful to the analysis here in congress on that. if that were something that
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congress were to consider, we would work to implement that as well. >> it's my understanding that the department of justice is currently invest getting whether the civil rights of eric gardner were violated when he died as a result of a choke hold that was applied in july of 2014 by an nypd officer, is that correct? >> yes, that tragic incident did occur in 2014 and it was on staten island, which is in my former district. >> and in december of 2014, i believe the department of justice publicly announced that it was considering whether civil rights prosecution would be appropriate, is that correct? >> yes. as you may be aware, the staten island district attorney initially undertook an investigation and grand jury presentation, as is commonly our practice, we awaited the results of that investigation and after
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the conclusion of the state matter, began our own federal review, which is ongoing. and the context of the federal review is ongoing. eric garner obviously has been killed. the individual who i think courageously recorded the incident is currently being prosecuted at the state level, in a manner that many of us view as retaliatory, remains to be seen. but the officer who deployed a choke hold that had been prohibited for the previous 20 years, remains on the force on desk duty receiving his salary. at any point did the department of justice communicate to the city of new york that it should refrain from proceeding with disciplinary action against this officer during your investigation? >> the gentleman's time has expired, but the attorney general can answer.
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>> thank you, sir. i'm not able to go into the specifics of the discussions that we may or may not have had with the nypd. except to say that it is common practice that during the pendency of the investigation, officers are placed on modified duty assignment, but they still retain the right to take action. they often do await the results of a federal investigation also. that has been my experience in the past with the cases that i've personally prosecuted and seen prosecuted. >> the chair now recognizes the gentleman from michigan, mr. bishop. >> thank you for being here today and for your patients in sitting through this long testimony. the primary function of any prosecutor is to enforce the law and ensure justice. as i listen to some of the questions, this can be applied in several different areas that we've been discussing today, the
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chairman took you down the path of talking to you about sanctuary cities. to me that idea is -- it is the selective application of laws. i'm wondering what your opinion is of sanctuary cities, given all that's been happening in this country. we have cities that have decided to enforce their own brand of law. to ignore law. we have constituents that we represent that don't understand that. and members that do not understand how we can have law enforcement community that does not enforce the law. it's inexplicable.
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i think it's important that we have some clarity to this answer. but federal law prohibits specifically section 642 of the illegal immigration reform and immigrant responsibility act of 1996 any state or local government from communicating with dhs information regarding the information status of any purpose. yet it happens. i'm just wondering, your predecessor didn't address this issue, i'm wondering if you can address it and if you can give the american people some clarity as to why sanctuary stays are still allowed to exist in this country. >> well, congressman, i have to tell you, it is not an issue on which i'm able to give you clarity about the history of sanctuary cities. at this point, i'm happy to look into the issue and provide you with what information we can. i know it is an issue of intense debate, and of course the department of justice is able to provide not only the information, but to help in that debate.
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i'm not able to give you the history of how they came about or explain that to you. i do understand the challenges that you note, however. >> that is exactly why americans are frustrated, because that's the answer that they're getting. selective enforcement of the law is not justice. it is, in fact, lawlessness, and we live in a country that we require our citizens to obey the law. yet our own law enforcement is being directed not to follow the law. so you have to wonder at what point in time do the citizens of this country begin to say why in the world am i following the law if my own government doesn't apply it in a fair way? i do believe we are fast
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approaching a time in this country where they ignore the law. we wonder why crime continues to proliferate. the violence reduction summit that you had. i would think this would be a really good conversation piece to have. why is it that we allow cities to ignore the law? and why law enforcement refuses to talk to each other. and why we allow glaring examples of violence to occur in our inner cities. we complain about it. i've heard it here today. yet we're not doing what we could do to ensure that it doesn't happen in the future. it causes me great anxiety to sit here and not hear someone -- a public official say we will not stand for lawlessness. we will not allow cities to circumvent or ignore the law. we are going to use the power and weight of our office to ensure that justice is done. i say that with conviction because i believe it's common
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sense. it has nothing to do with politics. it's common sense. i'd let you respond to that if you have any response to that. >> well, thank you, congressman. i do understand the frustration that you outlined. and certainly with respect to the statutory regime that you inquired about as i indicated. i'm not able to give you that historical information now, but i look forward to providing you what information we can. >> i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, madam attorney general for being here, particularly at a moment when i know you and the entire justice department is offering full assistance to your counterparts in france to respond to this horrific terrorist attack. i want to focus my questions on gun violence in our country. and specifically, under federal law, a gun seller may transfire a firearm to a purchaser after
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72 hours, even if a criminal background check has not been completed. and because of that, gun dealers went forward with almost 16,000 sales to people who turned out to be prohibited purchasers between 2010 and 2014. so my first question is do you think that the default proceed policy should be changed to a policy that says firearm sales may only occur if the background check has been completed and the transfer approved? >> certainly you raise an important issue about gun safety and our background system. we have been looking specifically at this issue. given the unfortunate circumstances that allowed dylann roof to purchase a firearm. and what i will say, though, is that while it does make it challenging and make it difficult to ensure that we keep firearms out of those who are prohibited, that is the current state of the law. >> no, i understand that, but you agree, do you not, that if
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the law, in fact, said the background check has to be completed and the transfer approved, we would reduce the live likelihood that people who are ineligible, 16,000 in that four-year period, it's from purchasing fire arms, correct? >> certainly it would provide law enforcement with another tool to make sure that firearms are out of the hands of prohibited persons and should congress consider something, we'd be happy to provide input and comment on that. >> so when that information is determined, when it's determined that a person is a prohibited purchaser, the agency sends out a retrieval notice to the bureau of alcohol and firearms, correct? >> yes. if a prohibited person does retrieve a weapon, there's a retrieval notice. >> so do you know what happens to those cases in which the atf is directed to retrieve a firearm? >> with respect to retrieval notices, atf will designate an agent to investigate the location and whereabouts of the individual and the firearm and
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retrieve that firearm from that person. >> so under current law and practice, no notice is provided to local law enforcement or to the u.s. attorney's office in that jurisdiction, is that correct? >> it is done through atf, that is correct. >> so that we have information that at least some of these cases, someone who is ineligible because they're a convicted felon, has purchased a firearm, but we don't provide notice to local law enforcement or to the u.s. attorney's office, only to atf. >> that's the current system. yes, sir. >> you would agree that providing that information to local law enforcement or to the u.s. attorney's office would allow them to prosecute some number of individuals who criminally and in violation of federal law bought a gun with a criminal record? >> congressman, i agree that certainly the sharing of all relevant information helps all law enforcement. every case would have to be looked at differently, and with respect with the individual facts of each case. >> in addition, i want to focus your attention for a moment, madam attorney general, on the nix system. director comey testified that receiving timely records from
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state and local law enforcements was a potential area for improvement. are there legislative efforts we can undertake to increase compliance by state and local governments. is it your sense that it's a lack of federal standards, general administrative difficulties, or is it just non-compliance? and what can we do as members of congress to try to encourage or require compliance with the nix system because it's only as good as the information that's contained within it? >> thank you, congressman. yes, the nix system is an important part of our background checks system, and we do rely very heavily on information from our state and local counterparts. in many instances, we have excellent reporting from those counterparts, and some instances, it is not as robust as we need. and anything that could be done to improve that would be useful. you could consider legislation. we also have been working directly, speaking directly with those localities to encourage them to improve their reporting
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to the current system. >> and one final question, madam attorney general. congressman deutsche made reference to this. this challenging issue of the definition of engaged in the business of dealing firearms. even the atf has said that this very vague standard frustrates prosecutions. it allows people who regularly sell guns to avoid the requirements of background checks, and some have suggested that you could issue a regulation that would provide greater clarity and define that. we recognize the legislation is also possible. but will you agree to at least look at whether or not you have the ability to issue clarifying legislation that will attempt to reach these individuals who are regularly engaged in the sale of firearms, but are not determined to be engaged in the business of dealing firearms, and thereby go free from any of the constraints that exist for firearm sales and present significant dangers as a result. >> the gentleman's time has expired. the attorney general can answer. >> thank you, sir. congressman, with respect to the
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important issue of our firearm statutes, i believe significant changes would have to be considered and implemented by congress. and should they be considered, we'd be happy to provide input and guidance there. in the current statutory scheme, we always do everything that we can to ensure robust enforcement under the current statutes. it involves, for example, outreach on the part of atf to gun dealers to vo provide guidance to them as to their activities. that goes on a regular basis. so that we can, in fact, increase and encourage compliance on the part of dealers. >> i'd ask unanimous consent that this first report the fbi data shows thousands of gun sales be introduced as part of the record. >> without objection. >> i'd ask unanimous consent this this article entitled wal-mart has tougher policies for background checks than the u.s. government does. and finally, a report entitled businesses as usual prepared by every town for gun safety, how
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unlicensed high volume gun sellers fuel the criminal market. >> without objection. >> thank you for being here. i know it's been a long day. i'm deeply troubled by recent events taking place on the global stage. i know that you have shared your concern about what happened in paris, attacks in beirut, and the current crisis in syria. these events, both singular and i don't think, have reinforced and further impressed on us the very harsh realities on our world and now we are confronted with a duty to respond here in congress. i hope that the administration will take the necessary steps to ensure our nation's security to the greatest extent possible in these uncertain times. as you know, director comey was here just a couple of weeks ago. and we asked him some questions. he testified before this committee that the fbi cannot offer absolute assurance that
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there is no risk associated with the current syrian refugee crisis. in fact, when i asked him specifically about the security gaps in syria, he said the challenge we face with syria is that we don't have a set of data, so even though we've gotten better at querying what we have, we certain will have overall. so he's saying we have the ability to query the information that we have, but we don't have a good set of data. we don't have a good set of intelligence. do you agree with that assessment? >> certainly, with respect to the information coming into our databases from syria, as the director has noted, it does present challenges to law enforcement. however, it doesn't mean we will stop trying to obtain data and utilize that screening system and i certainly want to convey our commitment to doing that. but certainly as the director has indicated, there are challenges to a system based upon the amount and type of data that one can obtain.
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>> so when you hear the media out there, they've spent the last few days saying that we are vetting these syrian rebels. but the reality is that we don't have sufficient informationknow. obviously, your administration is doing everything possible to gather the information that we have. but what we don't know irk the intelligence on these people is not not it was in iraq, isn't that correct? >> well, certainly, every country presents a different scenario in terms of the information that we have gather from them. certainly, while syria does present its challenges i'm not under information that we can provide -- >> i don't think that's what we said. i just note that we had some problems. in fact, he said i would say we have a less robust data set dramatically than we had with iraq so it is difficult.
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would you agree with that assessmenty. >> it certainly does present challenges, yes, congressman. >> he said dramatically, he said there's a small difference between the two countries but between iraq and syria, that's a dramatic difference in the type of intelligence that we have. then when i asked the fbi director, i asked him what the fbi can do to improve security checks, this is one of the things that scared me the most. he said, that's one, i don't have a good answer for. so, do you have a good answer for what we could do right now to improve dramatically, the intel against that we have on these syrian refugees? >> well, congressman, what i can tell you that both the fbi director and i will do everything in our power to continue to protect -- >> well, i know you will do everything in your power. and i appreciate your answer, but what specifically are you going to do, so i can go back to the people of idaho and let them know that the syrian refugees that may be coming to8 of idaho had been properly
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vetted. fought just vetted. but properly vetted, so we know exactly what their backgrounds are? >> well, certainly, congressman, we can provide you information with the type of vetting that is done. as i mentioned before -- >> we know the vetting that is done is not sufficient. the record company already said that. so your answer is inif you hasu at this time. how can i give assurance, to the people of my district, that we will have the intelligence that is necessary to know whether they are going to be harmful or not, to our communities, to our nation and to the families in my district? >> well congressman, as i indicated, we can in fact provide you information on the nature of the vetting. we can in fact, provide information, as i indicated that is done by the fbi. but also in conjunction with the department of defense, state, homeland security. we also rule on more than just the databases. every refugee from the country that chooses to come here,
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chooses to come here is subject to a robust interview process and a bio mmetric analysis. something that europe does not have the ability to do at this time, placing them in a dramatically different situation than us. and certainly, we're happy to keep you updated. >> you think the biometric information provided for syrians which the fbi director said is not sufficient, you think it is sufficient? >> congressman, i can indicate to you the types of measures that are in place and provide you information on the type of screening that is done, so that information can be be conveyed to the people your district. >> the gentleman's time has expired. the chairman recognizes will trott. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you madam general for testifying today. i want to talk a little bit about the settlements. in 2013 activist groups met with
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the then attorney general tony west and urged him, in my opinion, create a sludge fund to fund the activities in connection with the jpmorgan chase settlement. then in 2014, the same groups came back to the deputy attorney general, in connection with the city and wells fargo settlements, really pushed and accomplished mandatory donations to activist groups, specifically, iaf, with enhanced credits to donations for those groups. i wonder if you could comment on whether you think those discussions occurred in one, and if they did, why? >> congressman, with respect to those settlements involving rrnl mortgage-backed securities frauds, they are an important part of the department's work to not only protect the american people, but provide relief from the financial crisis and the housing crisis that has occurred from 2008 on.
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in connection with your specific question, i'm not aware of the meetings that you were talking about, i'm not involved in them. what i can tell you as a former u.s. attorney who was involved in the settlements of two of those matters negotiations were between the banks and the governments. and certain, how those matters were handled and how they were resolved. with respect to the consumer relief portions of those settlements, the money there comes from the bank. and it is specifically designed in the wake of the widespread and detailed admissions of wrongdoing on the part of the banks that led to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of homeowners losing not only their home, but the value of their homes and their savings. we also instituted consumer relief to provide direct relief to people. that went above and beyond the statutory penalties of the statute under which these cases
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were brought. before banks are designed to bring, for example, main forms of relief it principal reduction. where the entities were involved, the banks would have to make a selection, they would have to be an entity from a preapproved hud list that focuses specifically on relief from foreclosure. >> i understand how the money in connection with the settlements are supposed to be used. what i'm keved about, iaf which is an activist group that focuses on tens of millions of dollars with the intent, i believe, of training high school opportunities about the performance of debt management and financial management. and i can't for the life of me understand why, if you're really looking at trying to curtail future mortgage defaults, why that money wasn't given to the mortgage bankers of america. or the different state bar associations that were doing very good work in terms of loan modifications.
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instead, it went to some group that had a different opinion. and the question is how are we doing with respect to discovery on what happened to these? >> you can be more specific? >> 11 months, it was asked for the e-mails between the doj and groups as it relates to mandatory groups, activist group, 11 months ago. you're a former prosecutor, how would you feel if a corporation took you 11 months to send you ten e-mail, what would you do? >> it would depend upon the request and discovery and negotiations. >> is 11 months a good return time for discovery? >> it depends on the facts and circumstances. >> let's move in my last minute here for sanctuary cities for just a moment. so earlier today, chairman smith asked you about the immigration reform act of 1996. which bars state and local governments from prohibiting
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their officials from communicating information regarding immigration status to dhs. and your response to chairman smith's question was, we're talking with the different jurisdictions about their compliance with this act. so what are you talking with them about? >> congressman, i don't believe that that was my specific response. i would have to go back and look at that response. what i can tell you is that i believe my response was that i was not familiar with the specific statutory terms that we were discussing to provide a specific answer to this question i'd be happy to look at that. >> for the second that chairman smith was referring to, he didn't reference it to section 646-a which specifically gives you jurisdictions deciding not to comply with this act. so you sought any enforcement actions or injunction relief to try to make sure the different
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cities that have decided to go rogue are following federal law? >> the gentleman's question has expired. the attorney general can answer the question. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm not aware but certainly i can look and provide a response to you. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you, attorney general for a long day today. i hope you had a break for lunch. i did. a number of things come to mind, i'd like to pick up on the sanctuary side of this, and that is this statute that provides the local jurisdictions, law enforcement jurisdictions, from having a policy that prohibits our law enforcement officers from engaging with supporting or helping immigration enforcement officials from the federal government. and i'm of the understanding that some these communities prohibit their law enforcement officers from gathering information. and in that way, they circumvent the text of 642-a, as the gentleman referenced. so, i think it's important that you know that section and
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enforce that section. i've not yet seen an attorney general that does enforce that section of the law. and if you read that, and it reads to you as literally as i have described to you, would you be prepared then to withhold law enforcement grants from those local jurisdictions. >> thank you for the question, congressman and for the specific factual predicate to it. again, it's not a statute that i'm familiar with now to give you a specific response but i am happy to look into it and provide you with information on that. >> i would urge you to do that, and i'm asking you in this record, to please send that to me, at my office, as well as to the committee. i want to know directly what your response is on that. it's very frustrating to be engaged in passing legislation here in this congress and then seeing that it's ignored. that's the sanctuary city part of this. i wanted to go back to the background check part of this. i understand the distinctions between iraq and syria. and the more difficulty in
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syria. but do we have biometrics on the syrian refugees or the migrants? do we have fingerprints, digital photographs of those? is that part of the background checks? >> it depends upon the circumstance. a number of people who come in do have that information and a number do not. as i indicated before, as part of the process that information would be gathered. >> you can't do background on that information you that just gathered as far as fingerprints or digital photographs are concerned, it would have to be prior to coming out of iraq or syria. i just came back -- of them, and i met with the state department. in a number of countries. and they tell me that they're granting, they're giving our expertise to local countries in the european union, because as you said, we're ahead of them. i said, well, as some of that,
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are they fingerprinting, are they taken digital photographs? their response is, no, we aren't. the amount of confidence that you exude or the president exudes with the ability to do background checks. i see a huge haystack of humanity. and if in that haystack are the needles of terrorists. and in that haystack there are haystacks that will become the needles terrorists. do you believe they'll be radicalized box of their association especially with their religion and family members that they'll be transferred here into this country? into well, congressman, as i indicated, we do have a robust screening mechanism? >> how is robust? >> i also indicated a circumstance in order to assure that we have the information we need to make the determinations on who can come into the country and who cannot come into the country. >> let me suggest, it doesn't
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seem at all robust to me. not if it's not robust that we have already identified them in their home country -- if they don't have a legal existence in their home country, then how in the world can we possibly do a background check from people from a legal perspective, doesn't exist before they showed up here at the borders of the united states? we're faced with that. how about this, are you under any kind of directive by the administration not to say islamic jihad or radicalism, is that a memo that's come out? >> i've seen no memo on vocabulary, congressman. did you can say that, they are islamic jihads? >> i call them murderers, sir. >> how do we understand them if you can't say that? i want to read to you then -- you can't say it, can you, you can't say it any more than hillary clinton can say the word radical islamic jihad.
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if we can't understand our enemy, do you know what the term hijrih, islamic term for peaceful migration to invade countries and don't assimilate in the broader civilization? that's being preached in mosques around the united states. and moving up and they're resisting the idea that they could after assemble into the american culture of civilization, and we're sitting here acting like we can vet them without understanding what the word is without saying radical jihad. and having a president out of your party that can't say that either. i'm flabbergasted, it will be my last question, honest -- i'd ask for unanimous consent to ask the last question, mr. chairman -- >> finish your question. >> -- did you ever think -- this is actually a little bit of levity -- did you ever think
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that you'd be sitting here testifying about the house judiciary committee hearing so many people advocating for the legalization of marijuana? i yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman, madam attorney general, in my district, there's quite a large number of law abiding gun owners who also happen to be hunters. i can't tell you how many times i've heard complaints from those hunters about the availability of ammunition, especially at the start of deer season. as you may know, hunters are being forced to use alternative nonlead ammunition, because manufacturers can't make brass or steel core ammunition for a .276 or .370 deer rifle unless primarily intended for sporting purposes and that waiver has to come from the attorney general.
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now, in the last four years, there have been at least 32 petitions that have been submitted by manufacturers seeking that designation. not a single one of those petitions has been granted. but what really begs an explanation, i think, is that in the last four years, not a single response has been sent to any manufacturer with regard to those petitions. so, my question to you is a two-part question. why haven't those been responded to. and when can a response be expected? >> thank you for the question, congressman. i'm not aware of the request that you have noted. i thank you for raising them. i would like the opportunity to look into that matter and provide you some information. >> so, you can tell me in the last four years, have you discussed the existence of those petitions with anyone at the department of justice? >> well, congressman, certainly for the last four years in my prior position for u.s. attorney for brooklyn, that would not have been within my purview.
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as i indicated, while i'm not aware of the situation now, i'd appreciate the opportunity to speak to your staff and provide you with that information. >> you're aware that there's a statute, 18 hc-931 which says for which the attorney general finds to be used primarily for sporting purposes. do understand it's your responsibility to make that designation? >> yes, it's certainly included in the spovresponsibilities for office of attorney general. >> do you have any idea why there hasn't been any response at all for folks making petitions for the united states department of justice? >> happy to look into that and provide information to you on that. >> okay. let me then turn to another troubling issue as the nation's top law enforcement official, i want to get your reaction to growing anti-police sentiment, and actions of certain public groups out there in this
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country. i'm hoping that you'llal agr ag with me. i'm also a former united states attorney general. i'm hoping that you'llal agr ag with me. that law enforcement, the work that they do is vital to your work as attorney general and for the thousands of lawyers that work for you and the department of justice to be able to prosecutor violations of law, we can agree on that. >> i would call themes seshl es >> right. with that in mind, what is the status of carla dubinsky? >> you can give me background. >> carla dubinsky was charged in connection with shootings after hurricane katrina. the role of the taint officer is
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to make sure police officers are protected from disclosure of privileged information that was subsequently established in federal court. that rather than protecting those police officer, miss dubinsky who is the doj deputy chief rather than protecting her constitutional rights went online to anonymously leak evidence from the case and to mock the actual defendant police officers that she was supposed to be protecting. now, the federal judge that that case called it reckless. he called it wanton. and a new term that i'd not heard, he called grotesque misconduct. he found that she had personally fanned the flames of those convicted. the reason i raise this, ten months ago at your confirmation hearing before the senate committee, you deferred asking questions of chairman grassley until you could further investigate the matter. but you responded in writing if
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confirmed i will confirm that the department holds accountable any employees that have committed misconduct. please, please tell me that you've in fact done as promised and you've held miss dubinsky accountable for that outrageous conduct? >> congressman, to the extent i'm aware of the specifics of it, is that the matter was referred and reviewed by our office of responsibility and that the department felt the applicable civil service laws in conjunction with that. but i don't have further specifics on that for you. >> so, can you tell me whether or not, miss dubinsky who engaged in the conduct of trying to help convict the defendants she was sworn to protect them, can you tell me whether or not she's still employed it department of justice? >> time has expired. >> i believe that she is. >> well, it would seem to me
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th that, madam chairman, with the appalling conduct of the police right now. that if police officials can't count on the top enforcement official to back them up, who can they count on? thank you for that. i yield back. >> thanks to the attorney general for your patience and time today. without objection, all member of the five legislative bases would have written questions. with that, the hearing is adjourned. just in case you missed any
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of this hearing, you can find it on we'll stay live and take you over to the senate committee on oversight. they are holding a hearing this afternoon looking at the relationship between local and federal law enforcement. it is chaired by senator ted cruz and senator mike lee. and in the first panel the assistant of deputy general for the civil rights division. testimony under way for about 50 minutes or so. live coverage here on c-span3. >> therefore violates title 9. i've got a question for you, is this the view of the civil rights division of department of justice? is it the view of the civil rights division, that require a transgender student to change and shower behind a curtain, when in the locker room of the opposite biological gender, that asking them to do even that, would amount to a violation of title 9? >> senator, i thank you for that
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question. and i can say at the moment that justice department has not taken the fixed position on this matter. and i can't get into internal deliberations, but we are aware of the matter. and in conversation about it. >> okay. well, as i'm sure you're aware, if the school district doesn't confirm to the standard, the department of education may well refer this case to your division. have you or has anyone else, within the civil rights division of the department of justice, in contact with the u.s. department of education about this matter? >> we are aware, of course, that that can happen. that's why we're right now in conversation about this issue. we haven't now taken any position on it. and i'm not aware of direct communications with the department of education on this. right now, there are a lot of deliberations happening in the building on these various issues. >> so you have been consulted on it? >> we are aware that the department of education filed
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that matter. and it very well could be headed over to the justice department. >> -- enforcement of title 9 on this issue, if the school district at issue doesn't conform to the demands of the letter issued on november 2nd by the department of public education? >> unfortunately i'm not able to comment on that we haven't made any decisions on. >> based on my description of what happened, based on what you know in this instance do you think that the u.s. department of education correctly concluded that it's against the law for the school district to say that a transgender student who identifies as female, but was born male needs to shower and change behind a curtain. do you agree with that estimate that that would violate federal law? >> senator it would be appropriate for me to comment on this, given that the justice department has not yet made its position known.
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>> okay. i want to make clear, i've found that surprising. i found it a little stunning. you can't, right now, sit here and tell me that it wouldn't be a problem. now, i've got a 14-year-old daughter. she's in junior high. if what you're telling me is that it's too close to call such that if a transgender student at her school who identifies as female, but was born male, would have to be able to shower and use the locker room in the girls' locker room, just like any other girl, without being asked to use a privacy curtain or anything like that? if you can't tell me if that doesn't violate the law, then what you're telling me her principal could and should be expected to be hauled into court for making that determination, on a local basis, based on the needs of that school. if you can't tell me that, i
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think you're going to have a lot of parents who have a lot of questions. a lot of parents, parents with daughters, parents of sons, who are going to wonder why it is that our department of justice has to get so mired in the administration of a school, that it's getting into questions like who and under what circumstances, someone who was born male, but is a transgender student, identifying as female, must be given full unfettered access to showers, locker rooms and changing facilities within the school. and i hope you'll follow up on that. the american people certainly deserve clarity on that. and if we're going to start taking away educational resources from local school districts to fight battling like this in court, that's money that can't be spent on legitimate educational programs. and they need to be given zresh discretion so that they can run school districts in the manner
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that they deem fit. thank you, i see my time's expired. >> thank you, senator lee. senator durbin. >> thanks mr. chairman. the title of this hearing is the the war on police, how the federal government undermines state and local law enforcement. i know there was an effort to make this a neutral title for this hearing. but i think it leans a little bit in a provocative way. so i asked my staff, take a look at the initial investigations initiated by the obama administration police departments. it came up with the fact that there were some 17,000 departments. i heard senator kuntz say 18 departments in the united states. under the obama administration, they opened up investigations on 23 police departments. about one-tenth of 1% of the police departments across the united states. and this is being characterized by some, as a war on police. i'd like to ask you, senator, and chief davis, isn't it true that many investigations were
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requested by local agencies? >> thank you, senator. that is indeed the case. in many of the jurisdictions we ended up going into, they were initially requested. and it was only after we conducteded a preliminary investigation to determine whether there was enough evidence that would merit our involvement, but that is indeed the case. >> is it true that the vast majorities, the 23 out of 18,000 police departments were conducted with the cooperation of the jurisdiction? and resolved on a voluntary basis? >> yes, that's correct. >> some weren't. let me ask you about video cameras, there's going to be testimony in the next panel, chief davis, that video cameras inhibit police work and lessen their determination to pursue crime. it's interesting, we look at the money that's given out by the
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justice department to help local law enforcement pay for these video body cameras. in september, the justice department -- so, what is your take? >> i thank you for the question.
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we're still looking for assistance to doug so. it was about working with law enforcement. working with academia, regarding policy, making sure we have policy regarding privacy. to help the field in using this technology. now, what you'll hear from most agencies, what i'm hearing from the field is that the cameras were part of a larger accountability program. very positive. we know the results from rialto, california, for example, where they've seen a 20% reduction in use of the force. we see cities where they're reducing use of force, complaints. i think what the officers are starting to see, even in one might have agencies in oakland, after decades of using them, the cameras prove what everyone has said, it captures the overwhelming outstanding job and it clears them more than it indicts them. when it is capturing this
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conduct, it's the right thing to do. >> that's such an important point, because cameras may capture misconduct, but they might also capture the truth of a situation. when charge, made against a person in law enforcement that are just plain wrong and unfair. and i think as we're dealing with this new world, with dna evidence, science behind police work and this hard body of evidence coming out of video cameras, that i would agree with you. it seemed to me that most members of law enforcement feel that this body camera will tell a true story about what actually happened when specious and wrongful charges are brought against them. thank you. >> thank you, senator durbin. senator sessions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. this is a hearing, i think, that is important. we need to talk about some of these issues and there is a perception, not altogether
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unjustified that this department, civil rights division, goes beyond fair and balanced treatment. but has an agenda that's been a troubling issue for a number of years, frankly. your predecessor nominee was rejected for this job, the civil rights division job, according to the fraternal order of police, they wrote a letter that noted under his legalship, the legal defense fund for the naacp volunteered their services to represent wesley cook, better known as our country's most notorious cop killer. this can be interpreted only one way, as a thumb in the eye of our nation's law enforcement officers. it demonstrates a lack of regard or empathy for those who strive to serve you and everyone in our nation and keep them safe in their streets and homes.
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we believe that law enforcement minority communities need to build even bragreater bonds of trust and respect. yet your civil rights group under thomas perez and roy austin has presented obstacles with this punitive approach to law enforcement agencies. so, now, your nomination. you've been named as acting -- is that right, but have not yet been nominated? >> that is correct. >> and prior to joining the department of justice, you served as deputy legal director for the american civil liberties union and director for its center for justice. and prior to that, you were an attorney for the racial justice program. and prior to that you served as a lawyer for the naacp legal defense and education fund. so, i'm just saying that you come from a background that indicates an aggressiveness in
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these cases. civil rights division can fulfill an important role. i've seen attorneys. i've worked with them in a grand jury, investigating police. and the goal is -- it must be -- to obtain truth and find out what the real facts are. so, let's talk about this abit here. first, i talked to an experienced law enforcement officer in alabama. he says the kind of problems that we're seeing and the legal actions that have been taken and the marches and protests about police do have the tendency to tell people, as he said, to stay under the shade tree and not walk the streets like community-based policing that you advocate promotes.
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we won't go into the details about it. but i truly believe community-based policing is a great thing. and police are going to be in dangerous situations. i know you'll agree. and sometimes, they'll confront people who are violent. and they have to be able to defend themselves, do they not? >> yes, sir, they do. >> and sometimes that can lead to misunderstandings, and false claims by the criminal against a police officer sometimes? >> that is correct, senator. and i will tell you, i'm sure your esteemed colleague in your state will share this with you, when it comes to decisions, the officers are more concerned about the decision information the local department and local leaders and how they're going to be treated for those decisions. so that's always a concern. but fairness for people to understand the nuances of police. >> i keep thinking of pirates of
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penzance. when duties are to be done, a policeman's lot is not a happy one. it's not easy to go out and arrest people, to have to arrest people an pd put them in the slammer sometimes. in your speech that you made to the united states attorney, you say you talk about the charges made against police. and what police say in their defense and conclude there's truth in both of these perspectives, presuming what both sides say about it. and you also closed by saying if we would take time to listen, really listen, why protesters take the streets, why police officers risk their lives every day. we would find while perspectives may differ, people's aspirations and their values tend to be very
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similar. we all want safe streets. we all want stronger communities. we all believe in justice. this was an article written by roger clegg and hans von brosscowsky, both former members of the department of justice civil division. we find it hard to imagine protesters in st. louis chanting pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon right after two new york police officers were assassinated have the same values as law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day. do you see the concern that police officers might have about those kinds of comments? >> i know those kinds of comments, and i think they do a disservice to the peaceful
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protesters who are raising attention to serious issues around the country. >> well, i was really referring to your comments. in 2013, while working for the aclu, you wrote an op-ed in "the new york times," in which you stated you were elated when you learned that attorney general holder had, quote, directed all federal prosecutors to exercise their discretion toward ending their relentless warehousing of inmates. the majorivast majority of whom minorities in low position in low-level drug crimes. do you think most prisons are for low-level drug crimes? >> senator -- >> what are low level drug crimes? there are only 15 in the federal penitentiary, i understand for the simple possession of drugs. >> senator, as the head of the civil rights division, i enforce the civil rights statutes that we are given. and do not have a say so in our sentencing policies at that
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division. >> well, i'm troubled by your comments, that's all i'm saying. you want to be the head of the civil rights division, i don't feel good about that comment. how about this, in the court of law, in 2005, you wrote, we do not have criminal justice systems whose sub -- excuse me, we do have a criminal justice system whose subrogation of people of collar is dependent on people. now, i don't understand this theory, and it's been about for some time. it says you should not evaluate individual cases based on whether or not a person is guilty of that crime or not. but some other theory involving racism. do you think a case should be evaluated simply on the facts if
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a person is guilty of the crime or not? >> senator, at the civil rights division, i oversee career prosecutors and lawyers who are committed to investigating the facts and the evidence. and going where the law takes them based on that. and that is what we are committed to at the civil rights division. >> i'm very troubled by that radical statement you made in that article. you would go on to stay in that article, critical race lawyering is about transforming business as usual in the criminal justice system. a business that is usually masked as being racially mutual, bias-free and just the crime facts ma'am industry. we have to transform that business as usual into a counternarrative about police practices, racial bias and the irrationality of many of our criminal justice policies. do you still at here to those views? >> senator, that was an article that i wrote i think over a
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decade ago. but at the civil rights division, i, as i said, enforce the statutes that congress has given us to enforce. that is what i do. and that's what the career lawyers do at the civil rights division each and every day. >> it's clear that police officers all over america are concerned about the department of justice. i think based on those writings that acting head you now have about law enforcement and police gives them a basis to be concerned. thank you, senator sessions. senator kob senator. >> thank you, senator kuntz, we took our roles as ministers of justice, seriously, our role was to convict the guilty and protect the innocent. one of the things i learned it is especially vital that law enforcement officers have the training that is necessary to do their jobs. that they have the equipment. that they have the information
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systems so they can better coordinate and our judges can get information on those in front of them. and i also saw how effective law enforcement can be in reducing crime through cops program and the burn justice program. i have championed those programs. the cops programs has put more than 100,000 cops on the beat since 1984. in my home state, cops grant funded 155 additional police officers and sheriff's deputies. i guess i'd start with you, mr. davis. you have extensive law enforcement background with the police department in oakland. in east palo alto. thank you for your service. and how would your personal experience as a career law enforcement officer shaped your belief in the cops program? and do you think we have sufficient resources for them? >> thank you, senator, for the question. as a former chief i was a very
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happy supporter of the cops grant. and the support. a beautiful city, we're very challenged with high crime to be able to add two or three officers made a difference but what also made a difference is a lot of publications that the cops service put out. i used that information, because i didn't have the the research component i was able to implement evidence-based programs that actually worked, were very effective, that reduced crime in a very challenging neighborhood because of the research that was done nationally. through the cops office and the convenience, i was able to connect with my peers to learn the lessons that were valuable. and quite frankly, the challenge i had as the chief was an organization that needed reform. as i turned a consent decree from the civil rights division that reshaped the collaborative agreement so that we could not only reduce crime but do it in such a way, senator that it embraced the core values of this
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country and embraced your point. it was a dream come true because i was a supporter, a consumer, and it really attributed to the effectiveness of my city. >> and with the funding, as we go into this budget, as we go into next year, do you think that police departments could be helped in this pursuit of justice in fighting crime with more cops grant resources? >> on behalf of the chiefs that called me and speak to me, senator, say they drastically need more support. it's not just local. i think recent events will highlight the role that local police will play in national security. they need the staffing and resources and support. it's critically important. we do need to support them. >> obviously, i invite my colleagues to join me on this bill. we're going to be reintroducing it again this year. the other piece of this is just protecting the innocent piece. in my job for eight years, we
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worked really hard on that piece of it, dna reviews, we have videotape interrogation in our state. we were one of the first states to do that. personally big fans of it. and we came to see instances where it actually helped them convict the guilty. how people appeared on a videotape immediately after committing a crime was useful for the jurors to see. and i also think that it obviously improved policing because they could see if mistakes were made. and it certainly didn't limit their interrogation at all. the issue we talk about in that vein right now is body cameras. i'm just wondering what both of you are hearing from the police when you go around and talk to them. about that issue, what are some of the concerns and how would that be helpful in going forward. >> i'll start, senator, thanks for the question. i think the biggest challenge for many agencies is the call for storage. and obviously, privacy issues. in one sense we need them for
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enhancing accountability. the officers see the benefit. communities see the benefit. as you can imagine there's a lot of privacy concerns and cost. i think we can provide support by helping support best practices. we say help develop not as the federal government but we help to advance the field. we bring the best and brightest to come up with model policies. we can help with storage, training and even the ability to purchase. even the cost of a camera is too much for the general budget. >> do you want to add anything? >> yeah, i would say i think right now, a lot of jurisdictions are really engaged in a lot of policies that i think haven't been said. we have a lot to learn at the justice department in the ways that local jurisdictions are handling the privacy issue, the cost issues. so we have been in conversations with local jurisdictions about what their experiences are so we can take that back and reperform
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the work that we're putting out to support that policy issue right now. >> all right. thank you very much to both of. you. >> thank you very much. i'd like to thank both of the witnesses for your public service and also for your testimony today. and with that, we will move on to the second panel. i'd like to ask the second panel of witnesses to come forward. as soon as everyone is seated, we'll move on to the second panel of witnesses.
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i want to thank each of the witness from the second panel for being here. i will briefly introduce them. we have six witnesses, we'll begin with miss heather mcdonald that who is the thomas smith fellow at the manhattan institute. a graduate of jail, cambridge and stanford university law school. ms. mcdonald's writings on policing, criminal justice reform and race relations have appeared in a wide variety of respected publications over the years. miss cheryl lynn isil is the chairman of the naacp local defense and educational fund.
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a graduate of the vassar college and the nyu school of law. served as a professor at the maryland school of law and published a book on the legacy of lynching in the 21st century. mr. john p. walters is the chief operating officer at the hudson institute. a graduate of the michigan state and the university of toronto. mr. walters served for seven years in the george w. bush administration. as a cabinet director and in the white house office of national drug control policy. before that, he worked in the department of education during the reagan administration. dr. cedric alexander, currently serves as the chief of police for dekalb county, georgia. dr. alexander obtained his doctoral degree in clinical psychology. a masters degree and a bachelors degree in psychology. prior to leading the police
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department, dr. alex sand korea worked at the tsa at the dallas-ft. worth airport. i hope your time in texas was a pleasant one, dr. alexander. mr. robert driscoll leads the washington, d.c. office of the law firm mcglinch e. stafford. a graduate of georgetown school of business law center mr. driscoll previously searched as the deputy assistant attorney general and chief of staff for the department of civil rights division. and finally, mr. andrew mccarthy, a senior fellow at the national review institute and a contributing editor to national review. a graduate of columbia and the new york law school, mr. mccarthy served as a federal prosecutor for 18 year it's in united states states attorney office for the southern district of new york. perhaps most notably, he was the lead prosecutor in the terrorism case against the blind sheikh
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and 11 others convicted in 1995 of conspireing to wage a war of urban terrorism against the united states. mr. mccarthy is the author of several books on terrorism and national security. i thank you each of you for being here. and ms. mcdonald, we'll begin with you. >> esteemed senators my name is heather mcdonald. i'm a fellow at the manhattan institute, a think tank in new york city. i'm honored to address you. for the last year, the nation has been convulsed by an organization known as black lives matter. the greatest threat facing young men today and that the criminal justice system is racially biased. cops are now routinely called racists and murderers. policing dangerous areas have
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been become dangerously fraught. president obama has done little for the black lives matter movement. indeed, he's amplified them over the last year. speaking in new york city this may, for example, the president claimed, quote, young black men experienced being treated differently by law enforcement, in stops and in arrests, and in charges and incarcerations, end quote. in fact, there is no government agency more dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter than the police. tens of thousands of black lives have been saved, thanks to the data-driven policing revolution that began in the 1990s in new york city. the police could end all uses of legal force tomorrow. and it would have a negligible affect on the black death by homicide rate. over 6,000 blacks are murdered each year, more than the whites and hispanics combined.
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even though blacks are only 13% of the population. their murderers are neither police, white civilians or other blacks. the less than one-third of all police fatalities is less than what the black crime rate would predict. blacks admit over 60% of all robberies, and nearly 60% of all murders in the largest u.s. county, and they commit 40% of all cop-legal shootings. i would request permission to submit for the record the relevant justice department documents. countless law abiding residents in innercity communities fervently support the police. at a police community meeting in a new york city south bronx this june, an elderly woman spontaneously ex claimed, oh, how lovely when we see the police. they are my friends. residents begged for a police surveillance tower to protect them against gang shootings. and asked the police to break up
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the crowds of teens hanging out on corners and fighting. a routine request at police community meetings and urban areas is for more drug enforcement, not less. as for the broader claim that the criminal justice system is biased, that, too, is false. the overrepresentation of blacks in policen is a function of their elevated crime rates. i request permission to submit for the record is the criminal justice system racism from the city journal which addresses this question in depth. crime is now spiking across the country. fbi director james comey observed in october, quote, most of america's 50 largest cities have seen an increase in homicides and shootings this year. and many of them have seen a huge increase. enquote. director comey has suggested
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that the spike. and the domestic stops and public disorder as racism. in response, officers are doing less of those activities. rather than getting out of their cars to question someone hanging on on a known drug corner at 1:00 a.m., they increasingly now just drive on by. the available data documents this drop in proactive discretionary policing. and the key hk8=p this is discretionary policing. certainly, the police responding to 911 calls but the whole realm of proactive policing is what is under threat. in new york city, for example, summons for low-level offenses like public urination and drinks were down 26% in the first half of 2015. arrests in every crime category were down 15% as of late october. even if homicides were up 8%. in los angeles, arrests were down 10%, even if violent crime is up 20%.
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despite evidence of the crime surge and the reason for it, president obama had the tu marty this month to accuse director comey of pursuing a political agenda. to be sure, police departments must work on improving officer courtesy and making sure that officers use legal force only as a last result. but the president's delegitization is enforce only. smkts mo s some suspects are likely to resist force. crime shoots up but it also threatens t s legitimacy of law order itself which puts us at
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risk. thank you. good marriaafternoon, on bef the naacp legal defense and educational fund i want to thank you for the opportunity to testify about the crucial roles the department of justice has played in investigating and supporting this country's law enforce meacement agencies. while i'm grateful to appear to you, i regret the name of this hear inaccurately describes the relationship between law enforcement and the community this serve. there is no war on police. what has been called a war is an admittedly painful, but necessary national conversation about the police use of excessive, sometimes, fatally excessive force, against unarmed citizens. a disproportionate number of these victims are african-americans. the protests that have erupted around the country are in response not to just what the entire nation has seen in graphic and disturbing videos over the last year, instead,
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they reflect the decades-long reality of the relationship wean police and many communities of color. a painful confrontation with this long simmering issue has compelled us to confront what fbi director james comey has described as hard truths about race and law enforcement. the conversation we're having is long overdue. but i'm confident that it will result in better policing. stronger and more trusting relationships between the police and the community this serve. and a safer america. it's not only appropriate, but we believe that americans expect our federal government to bring its resources and leadership to bear, when we find ourselves confronting an issue of national magnitude, that threatens public confidence in our justice department. the department of justice say resource for law enforcement out there the country, and as you heard earlier the linchpin of the process has been
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collaboration. the department has through the cops program provided an array of public assistance to local police departments. including training in critical moments as unrest developed in communities around this country over the last year. where necessary, they have used their enforcement powers to assure that local police departments are not violating the law. this goings to the heart of the function of the justice department. some of have raised concerns about the cost of the department's pattern and practice reviews but in fact the cost to jurisdictions and police misconduct is astronomical. "the wall street journal" reported this summer between 2010 and 2015, the ten cities with the largest police departments paid out a total of over $1 billion in settle mngme and in entire cases. the entire department of justice overseeing pattern and practice investigations is but a fraction of that amount. i'd like to address comments made today an recently about the so-called ferguson effect.
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there is no credible evidence that increased scrutiny of policing has led to an uptick in violent crime. what we do know, however, is that a lack of confidence in police does exacerbate effectiv policing depends on vigilant citizens and are willing to share information about law enforcement. a collaborative relationship between the police and the communities they serve produces this result. the question is not whether citizens should closely scrutinize the professional practices of public servants. in a democracy, this is precisely what citizens should do. you are doing it today. on behalf of those you represent with this hearing. the fact that citizens are more closely observing police, taking individu videos is not the problem. the real questions center on what that increased scrutiny reveals. sadly what the public has witnessed over the past year say disturbing pattern of policing that has resulted in the lowest level of public confidence of
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the police in 23 years. if there is a ferguson affect, i would describe it quite differently. the effect of protests and increased scrutiny has provoked a conversation. we should be encouraged by the consensus about the need for several critical reforms. these include the need for body worn cameras and bet are and mo more effective training. they need training in managing encounters with persons with mental illness, young people and with members of the lgbt community as well as training in implicit bias which the fbi director recognizes also as critically important. finally, almost all agree that we lack reliable data on police involved killings and assaults. in our view, this committee should applaud the extraordinary work of the department of justice over the past year. they have carefully deployed their resources and expertise to support much needed reforms in
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policing. where they have used their enforcement powers, they are fulfilling a key aspect of their core mission, to ensure that the rule of law is followed by state and local law enforcement and to promote public confidence in our justice system. thank you. >> thank you, ms. ifill. mr. walters. >> thank you. i'm sorry. i would ask that my written statement be submitted into the record. i'm going to make a couple of comments to get to the points that have been covered before. i'm here as an individual. i served in the past in the administration of both george bush's father and president reagan. i got started at the department of education working on the issue when crack and cocaine were sweeping our country and probably even for our schools. i think the hearing has shown that in some sense there's not a
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disagreement about the courage and the dedication of people in law enforcement. there's not -- seems to me, i'm somewhat unclear from the testimony, that there aren't more instances of misconduct by anybody. that they're minor and they're wrong when they're wrong, but there's still an amazing amount of professionalism and courage in our law enforcement agencies every day. and we all support that. the big difference now it seems to me is the indictment of the criminal justice system without substance especially by senior federal officials in the past and current in this administration and the indictment of the criminal justice system as punishing people wrongly in our prison system. we have had a remarkable decline in crime. most of that crime is in neighborhoods where people have lesser voice. we saved thousands if not tens of thousands of lives through
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reductions in murders, especially among young black males which have been of particular concern for every administration and every american citizen who cares about 4"fñ safety of our fell le citizens. the difference seems to be that the president and past attorney general holder at any rate led the impression that our jails and prisons are an example of injustice. that even though they have been apparently convicted through due process and fairly, there's been no massive indictment of unjust convictions, that somehow the sheer number of people and the racial composition of our criminal justice system is somehow an indictment of the people in it, peshespecially th police, who are the ones with direct contact with members of the community. we know -- because the federal government created this data -- that the victimization of individuals matches the results in our criminal justice system, that we're protecting the people of color who are more frequently unfortunately victims of crime.
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we are protecting the very people who have less money and less resources who are very frooktly the victims of crime. we know from the very data the federal government has been collecting that we have been able tory duce things like drug crime and addiction in communities in the past. nonetheless, the administration has made it a priority to indict the criminal justice system. and not just the federal system but the state and local system. the danger of that, of course, is to make everybody in the criminal justice system and the institution of government seen as aggressors, perpetrators of wrongdoing if not victimizers of citizens, the very citizens they're sworn to protect. this corruption -- i agree with the earlier statement. i think we know trust is the basis of our government as well as law enforcement. this is the fundamental corrosion of the institution of justice and the relationship
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between citizens and communities and the criminal justice system. to see these acts of protection as acts of wrongdoing. that's what's really going on here. and it's unfortunate and it's wrong. and it's false. and it's a situation that has led to reducing penalties, reducing mandatory minimum sentences that have protected many people from crime, have broken down drug organizations that have victimized the least powerful in our communities. you will be asked to look at changing the structure of relationships between the federal and state government as the justice department witnesses earlier testified and you heard, the sentiments that those people presented were in private life that senator sessions raised that are seen in positions of power lead people to believe that people that are supposedly fair are unfair, are perpetrating falsehoods, are suggesting the criminal justice
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system is the criminals. that's what's wrong here. that is something that needs a voice. and i'm pleased that you have been able to get the people here together for a hearing like this. it's taken -- it has taken far too few people have had the courage to do that. thank you for doing this. thank you for giving us an opportunity to state what i think most americans know and wonder why they don't hear. >> thank you, mr. walters. dr. alexander. >> thank you, chairman cruz and ranking member coons and the subcommittee for an opportunity to be here today. i've been looking forward to this. it is an honor to be here today to participate as a witness in the senate hearing on the war on police. how the federal government undermines state and local law enforcement. thank you very much, senator cruz, for holding this hearing because i think it's very important. i think it's very timely as
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well, too. i speak to you from the perspective of a law enforcement officer for over the last 39 years. and i have been through several generations of the profession going back to 1977 to today. i have seen law enforcement change tremendously over the years. growing up in florida and spending early years in the great state of alabama, i have learned that for me, law enforcement and public safety is one of the most valued opportunities that we all must have and share in order to have safe communities and have a safe country as well, too. i've also had the opportunity to most recently serve as immediate past president of noble, the national organization of black law enforcement executives. public service to all communities and to serve as the
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conscience of law enforcement by being committed to justice by action. it's my position that this country has a unique opportunity today to address the lack of trust and understanding of law enforcement in many communities across this country. it is impearive that every citizen that we collectively deploy solutions in areas of training, community policing and technology to ensure that america's is secure domestically and internationally. secondly, through these solutions we're able to further the hopes and dreams of many of our forefathers in realizing true civil rights and human rights as stated in the declaration of independence. we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unailable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. the most recent events that we all are very familiar with, ferguson, missouri, staten
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island, new york and other cities across this great nation when combieped with real or perceived attacks on civil rights, legislation has created an environment which many people across this people feel disenfranchised by their national and local government. what are some of the solutions we can talk about? solutions to building bridges of understanding partnership between law enforcement communities, they ought to protect and serve. training is a very important element. competency, a word we hear a lot of, is a critical component in bridging the gap. we know, too, this country as great as ours, as diverse, we must be sensitive to the variety of cultures and attitudes that exist among us. i think it's important that we all have some sense of culture competency understanding at the end of it all we all are americans at the end of the day.
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it is important to note -- i'm not going to bore with you that. but when i think about community oriented policing, it is a recommendation that law enforcement and communities adon't community policing as a philosophy of policing in this country. when i started out in law ep forcement 39 years ago in south florida, dade county, florida, it was one of those very troubling times in america. a time where we had just come off a major riot of 1980. loss of a lot of lives, a lot of property, a lot of civil unrest and racial issues that extended out of that particular event. but we overcame that because we understood the importance of that community and that community at that particular time that police and community had to find a way to work together. and we did.
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and community oriented policing is as you have said, senator sessions, very important to public safety across this nation. and if i could very quickly, before my time runs out, i want to talk just one moment about advancing policing under the idea of this whole war on policing. as a veteran officer and as a conservative senior law enforcement administrator, i feel the issues deserve much further discussion and i certainly look forward to having